MUS 311 Counterpoint

G. Writing of Short Two-Voice Pieces, Chapter 7

Return to Home Page

Return to MUS 311 Menu

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

Form:

  1. The characteristic form of the dance suite is binary.

  1. The typical pattern found in dance movements and other short bipartite forms is:

  • Pieces in major modulate to the dominant by the end of the first part; the second part begins with the dominant and modulates back to the tonic.
  • Pieces in minor modulate to the relative major key by the end of the first part; the second part begins in major and modulates back to the minor for the conclusion.

Reducing or Increasing the Number of Voices:

  1. Occasionally, an "intermission" from two-voice counterpoint may occur.  In such cases, a voice may be doubled at a 6th or 3rd--sometimes, but not often, at the octave--to create a single texture.
  • An "intermission" should occur at a logical juncture--e.g., not in the middle of a phrase.
  1. Additional notes may also be added occasionally in 2-voice pieces:
  • to clearly define the harmony at points where the two voices alone cannot
  • to provide greater fullness at cadence points
  • to allow a melodic line to momentarily divide, so that one voice may complete a motivic theme or pattern, while the other takes a needed note.

Varied Repetition

  1. Rather than having an exact repetition of the binary "A" section, as is normally the case, another option is to write a variation of these measures for the "A" section.  The dominant/relative major modulation back to the tonic remains unchanged.

Return to Home Page

Return to MUS 311 Menu