MUS 311 Counterpoint
F. Two-Voice Exercises (Concluded), Chapter 6
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More guidelines for successful 18th-century style writing:
Second Species: 3:1
- It is unwise to use too many different patterns in one exercise;
however, avoid exact repetition from beginning to end.
- Avoid stepwise motion followed by a leap in the same direction.
- Avoid repeated notes, even between the last note of one triplet
and the first note of the next. (Seldom used except in a
- Avoid, similarly, repeating the same notes in successive
groupings--indicates lack of direction.
- Be certain to resolve nonharmonic tones stepwise.
- As with 2:1, it is a good general rule to avoid parallel fifths or
octaves between any part of one beat and the first note of the next
Third Species: 4:1
- Third species 4:1 patterns usually contain a mixture of chord
tones and nonharmonic tones. (Simply using chord tones creates
a succession of broken chords, rather than a "real"
- There is a sense of slightly greater weight on the first and third
tones of a foursome grouping, hence, these tones tend to be
harmonic, while the second and fourth tones tend to be nonharmonic.
Procedures to AVOID:
- Avoid stepwise motion followed by a leap in the same direction,
especially between the last note of one group and the first of the
- Avoid non-stepwise "resolution" of a nonharmonic tone.
- Avoid repeated tones, unless used in a sequential
fashion--disturbs flow of the line.
- Avoid anticipations occurring two or three notes in advance and
repeated obviously on a strong beat, such as a downbeat--weakens the
presence of the note the second time, unless used in sequential
- Avoid parallel 5ths or octaves on one part of a beat followed on
the beginning of the next beat. (Although, parallel 5ths and
octaves are sometimes found between the second note of
one group and the first of the next.)
Fourth Species: Syncopation
- Not all 1:1 counterpoint can successfully be converted to Fourth
Species; however, if a note is a suspension, anticipation or
a chord tone, a simple "shifting" of the beat can
usually be successful.
Commonly used suspensions are: 7-6, 4-3, 9-8,
2-3. (Examples 13 & 14)
- Suspensions generally resolve downward; however, upward resolution
is occasionally encountered (e.g., leading tone-tonic
resolution). (Example 15). Suspensions resolving upward
are called retardations.
- The effectiveness of suspensions lies in the momentary dissonance;
therefore, suspensions involving a 2nd or 7th are somewhat more
effective than the others, particularly if a m2 is involved.
- Suspensions may be delayed via inserted notes prior to the
resolution. (Example 19)
- The chain suspension involves a series of suspensions based
on parallel thirds. (Example 21)
- Eighth-note suspensions (1/4 note = unit) may occur on any
- Quarter-note suspensions should only occur on strong beats.
Suspensions to AVOID:
- Avoid the following suspensions:
- The 2-1 suspension, because the resolution note is in the same
octave. (Example 16a)
- The 3-4 and the 5-4 suspension, because both resolve to a perfect
fourth, which is generally unusable as an "essential"
interval in 18th-century counterpoint. (Examples 16 b
- Suspensions resolving to a perfect fifth. (Example 17)
- The 7-8 suspension, due to the irregular resolution of the 7th
downward; however, it is "possible" to use this
suspension. (Example 18)
- Anticipations occur less frequently than suspensions.
- Anticipations are seldom used in "chain" fashion, as are
- Anticipations are seen "most frequently" at cadence
Chord Tone Tied or Repeated:
- A note may be repeated from one beat to the next:
- As part of the same harmony on both beats
- As a common tone, with a chord change on the second
beat. (Example 24)
General Situations to AVOID in Fourth Species:
- A suspended note that doesn't resolve by step. (Example 25a)
- A "deviated" retardation, because:
- Ritardations seldom occur in the bottom voice
- The 7th moving upward to the resolution is uncharacteristic.
- As in previous species, syncopated parallel octaves and fifths
should be avoided.
- In 3:1, repeated/tied notes may be used if the notes involved are
either a suspension, anticipation, or chord tone. (Example 27)
- In 4:1, the tie is uncommon; however, repeated tones may be
used. (Example 29)
Fifth Species: ("florid"--a combination of all
- The main considerations are that each melodic line should be
singable, and rhythmic activity should be equally distributed.
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