MUS 311 Counterpoint

E. Chromaticism (Two Voices), Chapter 5

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More guidelines for successful 18th-century style writing:

  1. In general, chromaticism does not appear in isolated situations.  If it is used, it appears more than once to corroborate, or unify, the piece.

  1. One function of chromaticism is to suggest secondary-dominant embellishing chords:  V7/X-X.

  1. Chromaticism also functions to imply other secondary "dominant" embellishments, such as: VII7/X-X.
  • If X is minor, the embellishing chord will be viio7.
  • If X is major, the embellishing chord will be vii7.
  1. The Neapolitan Sixth (N6) chord is common to Baroque music.
  1. Chromaticism may also be used in cadential passages to modulate to a new key.
  1. For notational simplicity, chromatic tones should be spelled using sharps when ascending, and spelled using flats when descending.  Exceptions:
  • The raised 6th degree may be spelled as the lowered 7th if the spelling better conforms to the harmony.
  • For the same reason, the lowered 5th degree may be spelled as a raised 4th in descending passages.
  1. The following enharmonic spellings are seldom used in Major:  #3, #7, b1, b4.
  1. "Situational" chromatic exceptions may be dictated by the destination of the chromatically altered note:
  but:   but:
G-G#-A G-Ab-G E-Eb-D D-D#-E
  1. Avoid chromatic cross relations between voices, such as C in one voice followed by C# in another.  (Example 9 b, c, d)
  • Exception: simultaneous use of ascending/descending melodic minor scale.
  1. In 1:1 counterpoint, the viio7/X is generally ruled out due to the undesirable resolutions (d7 to 5th, A2 to 4th).  In 2:1 counterpoint, it is possible, of course, due to the intervening notes.

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