MUS 311 Counterpoint

D. Two-Voice Exercises, Chapter 4

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More guidelines for successful 18th-century two-voice writing:

First Species:  1:1

  1. Only use "essential" intervals in 1:1 exercises.

  1. The 6th, 3rd and octave should appear with greatest frequency.

  1. The octave should be employed chiefly on the tonic note at beginnings and endings.

  • The octave may also occur on the dominant note, or another note (excluding the leading tone) if voice leading makes its use logical: e.g., between a 10th and a 6th, with the voices moving stepwise in contrary motion--should be in a weak rhythmic position.
  1. The perfect 5th may occur on occasion, preferably surrounded by 3rds or 6ths.
  1. As a general rule, an interval should be used no more than three or four times in succession.
  1. The bottom voice should be considered a "bass" in terms of the harmonization, but not necessarily a "root."

For purposes of the workbook exercises, AVOID:

  1. Using the same pitch twice in succession--would alter the intended rhythmic ratio between voices.
  1. Writing the voices more than two octaves apart.
  • Avoid crossing voices at this point.

Second Species: 2:1

In regard to parallel fifths and octaves:

  1. It is possible to have "intervening" parallelisms on weak beats. This arrangement is not desirable if dissonances occur on strong beats.  (Examples 17 c and g)
  1. It is entirely acceptable to have "intervening" parallelisms as long as the parallel intervals do not appear at corresponding locations in the measure.  (Examples 17 d and h)

Parallelisms to AVOID:

  1. With intervening notes in only one voice.  (Examples 17 a and e)
  1. With parallelisms occurring on strong beats.  (Examples 17 b and f)
  1. Parallelisms to avoid in converting 1:1 to 2:1.  (Example 18)
  1. EXCEPTION:  Consecutive fifths may be used freely if the second fifth is unessential.  (Example 19)

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