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Topic: OT - a few questions about Fux

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  1. #1
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    OT - a few questions about Fux

    I have am going through Fux and have a question or two.

    The most important one is –how do you pronounce his name? If I use the obvious pronunciation and say something like, "I'm reading Fux, it’s an instructional book" people might look at me funny .

    Next question is this – in my reading I have seen reference to the Fux book containing chapters about imitation, double counterpoint and canon. The translation I have stops after doing the 5 species for up to 4 voices. Looking closely the book I have is called "counterpoint" and only claims to be an extract from the whole work "Gradus ad Parnassum". Does anybody know if there is a translation into English of the whole book?

    I’m currently near the beginning working on the third species of two-voice counterpoint and hit upon a little question about interpretation. I started doing exercises based on what I though the rules were and then went back and studied his examples. From his examples I came up with a slightly different rule set than what I got from the text. Is the following correct?

    Every measure must start with a consonance. In the third species any of the other three notes in a measure may be dissonant if it is entered by step from a consonance and exited by step to a consonance in the same direction. The cambiata is an exception were the dissonance is exited by a skip in the same direction (skip has to be a third?). Another exception (not given by Fux) is a downward run over a B from the sixth to the third, which contains a diminished fifth followed by a fourth (2 dissonances in a row).

    Does the above look right? Taking notes from the text I extracted the following-
    1. If 5 quarter notes in a row ascending or descending, the 1st, 3rd and 5th must be consonant but the 2nd and 4th may be dissonant.
    2. In a 4 note group, if notes 1, 2 & 4 are consonant, the 3rd note may be dissonant (still has to be entered and exited with a step)
    3. It is possible to skip from a dissonant 2nd note to a consonant 3rd note (cambiata).
    -but what I wrote in the previous paragraph seems to fit the examples a little better.

    Another question about this species deals with parallel and hidden fifths and octaves. To generalize for any note length, the way I interpret it from his examples is we only have to worry about the first note that is set against each note of the cf. Even here an intervening skip of greater than a third will nullify the effect. Is this right?

    Thanks for any help.
    Trent P. McDonald

  2. #2

    Re: OT - a few questions about Fux

    It's pronounced "fooks". In my experience, the only people who pronounce it the "other way" are Freshmen and a few Sophomores.

    I believe there used to be a tranlation of the whole work, but it was out of print last time I looked. You may be able to find it in a music library (sorry, I don't remember the translator's name).

    I'll try to answer your other questions later. Little pressed for time at the moment.
    Dan Powers
    www.danielpowers.info

    "It's easier to be a composer than it is to compose."
    --Ray Luke (1928-2010)

  3. #3

    Re: OT - a few questions about Fux

    Try alexander Publishing http://www.alexanderpublishing.com/m...nt/index.shtml

    and see if Peter Alexander can shed some light on this...he's a member here...send him a PM.
    I remain solely responsible for the content of my messages, and agree to indemnify and hold harmless northern sound source, and their agents with respect to any claim based upon transmission of my message(s). Rock on.

  4. #4
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    Re: OT - a few questions about Fux

    I guess after 12 generations of English speaking music students making that same joke about pronunciation it isn't very funny.

    The only other edition of Fux I could find is the Peter Alexander. If the table of contents is correct, it covers pretty much what I have with some harmony studies to help the reader/student get a better start.

    The good news, however, is that there is a book called "the Study of Fugue" written by Alfred Mann (who did the translation of Fux I am reading) that contains a translation of the rest of Gradus ad Parnassum. I've seen this book recommended before. I guess I know my next book purchase...

    Thanks for the help and suggestions.
    Trent P. McDonald

  5. #5

    Re: OT - a few questions about Fux

    Mann's Book is interesting not because the excerpts of classic books in the 2nd half (Fux, Marpug, Albrechtsberger and Martini) but for the highly interesting first half in which the author discusses the historical evolution of fugue.

    Anyway, if you're interested in Fux's book, the chapters included in Alfred Mann's The study of fugue are
    - A Lesson on imitation
    - Fugues in General
    - Fugues in 2 parts
    - Fugues in 3 parts
    - Fugues in 4 parts
    - Double Counterpoint
    - Double Counterpoint at the Tenth
    - Double Counterpoint at the Twelfth

  6. #6
    Senior Member squoze's Avatar
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    Re: OT - a few questions about Fux

    You might want to post a question on the Compose Forums also. They have a Counterpoint forum.

  7. #7

    Re: OT - a few questions about Fux

    Quote Originally Posted by trentpmcd
    I guess after 12 generations of English speaking music students making that same joke about pronunciation it isn't very funny.

    The only other edition of Fux I could find is the Peter Alexander. If the table of contents is correct, it covers pretty much what I have with some harmony studies to help the reader/student get a better start.

    The good news, however, is that there is a book called "the Study of Fugue" written by Alfred Mann (who did the translation of Fux I am reading) that contains a translation of the rest of Gradus ad Parnassum. I've seen this book recommended before. I guess I know my next book purchase...

    Thanks for the help and suggestions.
    Also look at the Percy Goetschius counterpoint books at Truespec

    http://www.truespec.com/store/books/...us/index.shtml

    Peter Alexander is also the man behind Truespec.
    I remain solely responsible for the content of my messages, and agree to indemnify and hold harmless northern sound source, and their agents with respect to any claim based upon transmission of my message(s). Rock on.

  8. #8

    Re: OT - a few questions about Fux

    Species counterpoint link - tutorials..

    Looks good, haven't read deeply yet,

    http://www.listeningarts.com/music/g...ies/intro1.htm

  9. #9

    Re: OT - a few questions about Fux

    Quote Originally Posted by trentpmcd
    Every measure must start with a consonance. In the third species any of the other three notes in a measure may be dissonant if it is entered by step from a consonance and exited by step to a consonance in the same direction. The cambiata is an exception were the dissonance is exited by a skip in the same direction (skip has to be a third?). Another exception (not given by Fux) is a downward run over a B from the sixth to the third, which contains a diminished fifth followed by a fourth (2 dissonances in a row).
    I'm trying to figure out what you mean here. Can you post a notation example of this?

    Quote Originally Posted by trentpmcd
    1. If 5 quarter notes in a row ascending or descending, the 1st, 3rd and 5th must be consonant but the 2nd and 4th may be dissonant.
    This seems to be correct. I don't have my book on me. There is a lot of pain with the third species because of the four against one thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by trentpmcd
    2. In a 4 note group, if notes 1, 2 & 4 are consonant, the 3rd note may be dissonant (still has to be entered and exited with a step)
    Correct.

    Quote Originally Posted by trentpmcd
    3. It is possible to skip from a dissonant 2nd note to a consonant 3rd note (cambiata).
    I think. You are making me start to doubt my memory! If you are finding things in his corrected exercises that don't look right he may have mentioned them in an earlier chapter. I hop you are using the Alfred Mann version because there are useful footnotes throughout that address some of this. I have both The Study of Fugue and the Fux book. These counterpoint exercises are a pain, but helpful. Using his cantus firmus, one shouldn't run into the complexities mentioned above, although a couple modes have somenatural weirdness. Did you try to avoid the tri-tone with an accidental? I'm still not sure what you mean, so I will wait to comment. I guess I need to get my Fux book back from the friend who has it!

    Quote Originally Posted by trentpmcd
    Another question about this species deals with parallel and hidden fifths and octaves. To generalize for any note length, the way I interpret it from his examples is we only have to worry about the first note that is set against each note of the cf. Even here an intervening skip of greater than a third will nullify the effect. Is this right?
    Ahhh... not sure what you mean. I personally force contrary motion as much as possible to avoid the dreaded parallel octave or fifth because, in this style of music, they sound like utter ~~~~e! There is a rule I am trying to remember... if you start the measure with the interval of a fifth and descend by single steps the entire bar, you end up with a second on the last beat of the bar. As far as I would guess, the LAST note is more important. If you have a C in the cantus firmus and a G in the soprano to start the bar, then the G moves to F, then E, then back to G, and the next note of the cantus firmus is D, the next note in the soprano may not be A. (F should be first choice...contrary motion). In the sam example if the soprano ascends (G, A, B, C) the next not cannot be a D. That would be a parallel octave. As for the hidden parallels, I have troubel making them happen, but they are nasty to the ear.

    Hope this helps, post some examples of the trouble areas and I will check them out.
    Jess Hendricks
    DMA Student and Teaching Asst in Music Theory/ Composition at the University of Miami
    Personal Website

  10. #10
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    Re: OT - a few questions about Fux

    Thanks everyone for the input. I most likely will post to the composer forum later.

    Great link ZeroZero. I briefly read through the intro and the first three species and may have answered some of my questions.

    Jess, I’ll try to clear up my questions a little. First, as I work through each species I try to write out all of the new rules in my own language. That is where the three numbered rules came from. (There was another about the second to the last measure, but that wasn’t important here.) Rereading and looking at ZeroZero’s link I notice I wasn’t totally clear in my description of the cambiata, which may have confused my number three a little.

    OK, back to my main question. As I studied the examples I was trying to figure out what rules were being applied to justify each dissonance. There were a few that I wasn’t so sure about. Looking for patterns I noticed a few things –

    1. The first note of a measure is always consonant. This should be obvious and was stated as part of the second species, but I had to make sure it applied here.

    2. With the exception of dissonances that happened on a cambiata every dissonance in Fux’s examples followed a pattern of having a consonant, a dissonant and then a consonant in step order and all either ascending or descending. Reading ZeroZero’s link there is the possibility of a neighboring tone, but I didn’t see one in this section of Fux. Actually, using what I wrote as rule two allows neighboring tones, but, as I said, I didn’t see any in the examples (possible I missed one). So I guess they don’t have to be all ascending or descending as long as we enter and leave with a step.

    In the footnotes there was an exception to the rule of no two dissonances in a row with a B in the cf on the lower voice and a G-F-E-D on the counterpoint in the upper voice. In this example there is a diminished fifth and a fourth side-by-side.

    As far as parallel and hidden fifths go, I just noticed Fux never used 2 fifths in a row and rarely (maybe never) let the first note of each measure form a parallel or hidden fifth, though I saw several hidden fifths between two notes in the middle of a measure. In the second species he allowed parallel fifths on the first note of the measure if the intervening note had a skip from the first note of more than a third. Again, the link ZeroZero posted had a great description of what to do with fifths, but I’m with you that I’ll just try to avoid them by going either obliquely or contrary into any fifth.

    Anyway, I hope this explains what I was trying to say a little better. Thanks for the help.
    Trent P. McDonald

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