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An exercise in Counterpoint

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mediumaevum

Member
Nice work. Where are you in your counterpoint studies?
Thanks. I'm not studying as such, but I'm trying to imitate Palestrina-style of composition.
I've been listening carefully to the works of choir pieces like Ola Gjeilo, Palestrina and Tómas Luis de Victoria and trying to setup exercises on my own.
 

sinkd

Senior Member
OK, very good. You have a very good sense for how these composers "divided" or filled in larger intervals with passing tones. Next thing to work on might be suspensions. For that, there is no better method than species counterpoint.
 
OP
M

mediumaevum

Member
OK, very good. You have a very good sense for how these composers "divided" or filled in larger intervals with passing tones. Next thing to work on might be suspensions. For that, there is no better method than species counterpoint.
Thanks. I was trying to create some sort of imitation in the voicing, either to imitate the melody, or let let the countermelody "say" what the melody should "say" next, a fifth apart. Did you notice any of this and did it work?

As for suspensions, are those dissonances for longer periods? I struggle really hard to create dissonances in my compositions over long periods of time. I can't seem to get it just right and make it feel coherent.
 

Virtual Virgin

Active Member
[QUOTE="mediumaevum, post: 4402022, member: 17926"

As for suspensions, are those dissonances for longer periods? I struggle really hard to create dissonances in my compositions over long periods of time. I can't seem to get it just right and make it feel coherent.[/QUOTE]

Hi :)

Suspensions are dissonances introduced with a tie or held note into a strong beat and resolved
step-wise.

Some commonly used resolutions over a triad:

2 > 1
2 > 3
4 > 3
6 > 5
7 > 1

Those scale steps may be altered for various modes and certainly the minor keys.


A good place to start would be using suspensions in a cadence.

Screen Shot 2019-06-17 at 5.38.50 PM.png

Here we have a IV V7sus4-3 I and the same transposed to the relative minor.

In this case the top voice is the suspension: a dissonance introduced as a held note into a strong beat. That dissonant 4th resolves down by step to the 3rd of the V7 chord.
 

David Cuny

Where did all this grey hair come from?
A "classical" counterpoint suspension is typically in three steps:
  • Preparation: the voices sound consonant intervals
  • Suspension: all but one voice move to new notes, causing the note that didn't change to become dissonant; and finally
  • Resolution: the "suspended" voice moves - typically down by a step - to resolve the dissonance.
Alfred Mann's translation of Johann Joseph Fux's Gradus Ad Parnasum is a good introduction to species counterpoint.

Fux was a huge fan of Palestrina, but if you want to learn the authentic Palestrina style, Knud Jeppesen's Counterpoint: The Polyphonic Vocal Style of the Sixteenth Century is probably the way to go. But that one's more than a bit harder than Fux's!
 

sinkd

Senior Member
I like to use a very simple definition of a suspension: Delaying the descending stepwise motion to a consonance, creating a pleasing strong beat dissonance with the bass (and other voices) that resolves down by step.
 
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