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Topic: OT : Counterpoint books (again)

  1. #1

    OT : Counterpoint books (again)

    Hi, and first, happy new year to all !
    Now, a few weeks ago I wrote a post to ask for tips in choosing good counterpoint book(s).
    I was given by some of you here (and elsewhere)some titles to investigate about (Jeppesen, Fux, Salzer, Piston...)
    Now, since these titles are not available in france where I live and have to be ordered without a good look at it, I would need some more specific vital info :
    ARE THERE any books which deal with counterpoint with less than 3 different \"C\" clefs ?!?
    I spent 2 weeks to(roughly) learn the alto clef, thinking it was the only requisite, just to find out in a couple of books I can find here that they also use two other \"C\" clefs (first and fourth lines)....
    So I would me more than happy to find a book which satisfies itself with the 3rd line \"C\" clef, and the two standard ones (trebble and bass).
    Is it just a dream, and will I still have to swallow two more clefs if I want to go on, or are there \"modern\" counterpoint books which use less clefs ?
    Thanks again !

  2. #2

    Re: OT : Counterpoint books (again)

    I\'m just \"bump\"ing my post, just to get it over here.
    Thanks again.

  3. #3

    Re: OT : Counterpoint books (again)

    Hi sirbellog,

    I remember your request from a month or so ago. Being a bit of a contrapuntist myself I thought back to how I learned to write counterpoint (something I\'m still learning). Books are useful for learning rules, avoid parallel 5ths and octaves, but real learning happens with listening, analyzing and composing. I think counterpoint has gotten a bad name because some teachers make it sound like it\'s difficult to write.

    I guess my question for you is what do you want to do with counterpoint? Do you want to write fugues, include contrapuntal episodes in your music or just improve your voice leading? Also what\'s your background, how much theory do you know? If you can do 4 part harmonizations then it\'s time to pay more attention to the structural aspects of counterpoint. You may be better served by buying the music and CDs for Bach\'s Well Tempered Clavier and just listen to all the fugues and read along, then choose a few to analyze in depth. There\'s plenty of great counterpoint written since Bach,but all the great composers since then have used Bach as a starting point. You should to. It sounds to me like that would be more fun than reading a book about music.

    I think it\'s Aaron who has this in his sig, \"writing about music is like dancing about architecture.\" That couldn\'t be more true than when trying to learn how to write good counterpoint. If you need suggestions for music to look at beyond the Well Tempered Clavier, just ask and folks here will have plenty of suggestions.

    All the best,

    Steve Chandler
    aka Ettienne

  4. #4

    Re: OT : Counterpoint books (again)


    do you have some backgrounds in harmony? If not, I think you should start looking for books about that before you learn counterpoint.
    In my oppinion harmony know-how is a must before you start learning counterpoint because even though you are learning to think vertically (lines) you must know how to think horizontally (chords) first.

    However, to answer your question about clefs - Then all the books I\'ve read about counterpoint have used all the clefs.

  5. #5

    Re: OT : Counterpoint books (again)

    I think you have it backwards Falcon1.
    Chords are vertical. Lines are horizontal.

    It is easier to learn the types of chord progressions first though. One thing to keep in mind is the more unusual types of chord progressions you might hear in a piece are often the result of the voiceleading rules of counterpoint.
    I have a book called \"Structural Hearing and Tonal Coherence in Music\" that tends to blur the two disciplines. It\'s pretty advanced though; I\'m still trying to learn from it.
    As a recent experiment, I tried composing something based solely on the rules of counterpoint (I usually don\'t start a piece until I have a main theme in my head). I had no idea what I was writing. I literaly just randomly put up notes on the page in a nice shape, and added a counterpoint to it below. To my surprise I ended up with a nice theme that had some interesting modulation in it, and I ended it breaking it apart and making a whole orchestral work from it.
    In other words, there is definitely something in learning counterpoint that you will never get by learning harmony.
    By the way, you may already know some countpoint intuitively, if you\'re able to come up with counter themes to a main theme. That\'s something I do all the time. Occasionaly what pops in my head doesn\'t work, and usually it\'s because it breaks some common counterpoint rule.

    Anthony Lombardi

  6. #6

    Re: OT : Counterpoint books (again)

    That\'s true Tony, I wrote this completely backwards. How dummy is that?! [img]images/icons/grin.gif[/img]

  7. #7

    Re: OT : Counterpoint books (again)

    Well, first I thank everybody for replies and tips, and will try to answer globally.
    Although I\'m 80% self-taught (through books), I do have a background in (jazz-oriented) harmony, mainly based on Berklee theory for voicings, and various sources for chords progressions, substitutions, etc...
    And that\'s my problem : I\'d like to get free from the chord progression as a basis for composing, and compose more based on melody, with several lines, etc...
    And, because I also love classical music, I would like to (at my humble level) try to write small orchestral pieces.
    So, will I find some help toward that in counterpoint study ? Well, that\'s my hope, but I cannot tell from something I do not really know !
    As to taking Bach\'s Well Tempered music, and analyze it counterpointwise, without knowing how to analyze it this way, well, this seems to me a bit of a challenge !

  8. #8

    Re: OT : Counterpoint books (again)

    sorry, double post !

  9. #9

    Re: OT : Counterpoint books (again)


    I must correct myself. I looked through my counterpoint books and noticed that the examples in \"Counterpoint\" by Walter Piston are mostly in standard clefs.

    It\'s a very good book about the issue! (IMHO!)

  10. #10
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Dorset, UK

    Re: OT : Counterpoint books (again)

    Originally posted by sirbellog:
    And that\'s my problem : I\'d like to get free from the chord progression as a basis for composing, and compose more based on melody, with several lines, etc...
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">I don’t think you can divorce counterpoint from harmonic progression. If you do, you loose control over the sequence of dissonance and consonance, tension and resolution. Counterpoint does not relieve you of the necessity of “correct” voice leading if you want to retain forward motion in your music.

    Although I often change the chordal progression to accommodate counterpoint in the middle parts I remain conscious of the forward propulsion provided by the harmonies.

    I love counterpoint. I write some music for school bands and I am sure that melodic middle parts greatly increase the enjoyment the kids experience from playing in the orchestra.

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