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Lessons with Aniolel


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Hi Anoliel, Good work. There is only once glitch in this one: the B natural (second beat) in the fifth bar forms tritone against the F in the cantus. Sadly this is not allowed in species counterpoint, as the tritone is considered an outright dissonance and would have to be prepared and resolved by step. However, if you made this into a B-flat (I know it sounds weird but species counterpoint is weird), it would be ok. Another thing to be aware of is the shape of your line - try and create something that has more of a flowing melodic curve (or pair of curves), with a climax point. I know this is tricky but it makes good practice.

Do you want to have a go at inventing your own cantus, minimum eight bars long, in a different key, and then writing a second species line to go with it?

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I try that and post on here when I am done. Are we going try every species in two parts first before doing them in 3 and 4 parts? Because, if we are that will be easier for me to learn them in two parts before doing them in 3 and 4 parts.

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Hi Aniolel,

Thanks for doing this. What you've done in this one has highlighted quite a few problems that we'd better deal with. First of all I'll list the mistakes.

1) Bar 2 - fourth on strong beat (this is not allowed in this species)

2) Bar 4 - unprepared and unresolved fourth

3) Bar 5 - as for bar 4

4) Bars 5-6 parallel fifths across barline

5) Bar 7-8 parallel unison.

I'm only going to detail briefly why these are wrong. I think we should stop species for now (it's not particularly good training), and get you study basic harmony that will sort these problems out for good.

1) Parallels - parallel octaves, fifths and unisons (with one or two exceptions in all the literature) are never allowed in tonal music. The reasons for this are complicated, but can be simplified to two reasons: a) when music moves in parallel octaves, unisons and fifths you are not writing independent parts. You have simply 'doubled' the voices. This is effectively the opposite of 'counterpoint' which means the contrasting of parts that move independently.

b) Parallel fifths is a doubling that harks back to a much earlier era in music and was therefore avoided. It instantly evokes what is known as 'organum', and because it sticks out from the music so garishly it cannot be used when writing tonal harmony or counterpoint.

2) Perfect fourths are a dissonance like sevenths and seconds. They therefore need to prepared as a consonance first or occur as passing notes on weak beats. They must also always resolve downwards by step - neither moving upwards by step or away by leap is acceptable.

Please read this (again if you have already) and really take it in.

I'd then like you to read this and then this, and do the cadences homework as set in the cadences lesson. Ok?

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Hi Aniolel. These are great - except the IV-V imperfect cadence in E major. Because there are no notes in common between IV-V you can't have a tie - the second chord should simply be a B major triad with D sharp on the top.

However, I should point out that IV-V is a particularly weak sounding cadence, you hardly ever see it used - and it's often by crap composers! The reason for this is exactly why you made a mistake - there are no notes in common between the chords, and the voice-leading sounds a little unnatural.

In fact this a good opportunity for me to point out that generally speaking, root position chords a second apart, do not make good progressions at all. For example the progression I-ii-iii is one of the least musical and least convincing harmonic statements there is. If you wrote it in an exam you'd fail! So IV-V sucks! I-V or better still I6/3-V is much more common.

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