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ansthenia

Counterpoint In Modern Or Jazz Harmony?

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Hello

 

I am studying Harmony, Counterpoint and Orchestration in the hopes of being able to combine all three to write orchestral music. For harmony I prefer lots of extended chords like 7ths and 9ths but counterpoint books only seems to treat these as passing tones. I wanted to use counterpoint to make each line of my chord progressions more individual and melodic to add exitement and movement to the background of my main melody, but the counterpoint manuals I've read don't allow those 7ths or 9ths on downbeats (I know about suspensions but I mean I want them to begin on the downbeat), so I can't have my 7th or 9th chords unless it's a passing or neighbouring tone.

 

The books I have are on "18th century counterpoint". Does the 16th century style of counterpoint allow you to study having multiple melodies playing together without being stuck with basic triads on the downbeats?

Edited by ansthenia

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This is 2013. Extended chords emancipated themselves from the tyranny of boring triads and passing notes a couple of centuries ago. Now they are free entities. The dissonant notes no longer need to be prepared or resolved and they can happen in any beat. I guess you will need more up-to-date manuals.

Edited by Sarastro
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Thanks

 

I think I'll study linear counterpoint then with the whole "fusion and tension" concept, and not worry about having to resolving dissonance like you would in traditional counterpoint.

Edited by ansthenia

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Instead of studying counterpoint from 200 year old books, I'd suggest you study counterpoint, orchestration, and form from actual scores in the last 100 years or so.  Here's a small list just to get you started:

 

Counterpoint: Paul Hindemith, Mathis der Maler, and Igor Stravinsky, Rite of Spring
Orchestration: Maurice Ravel, Daphnis et Chloe, and Gustav Holst, The Planets Suite

Form: Terry Riely, In C, Sergei Prokofiev, Symphony No. 1

 

I think you'll find that all 6 composers above follow several of the guide lines of these 18th century counterpoint books.  However, they all stretch the limits of their writing FAR beyond anything that was conceived in the 1750's.

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I'd say that now, almost anything goes in terms of harmony. The key to writing good counterpoint is more to do with good voice leading and control of tension and release than with thinking about the harmony.

 

In terms of voice leading, you should still strive for contrary or oblique motion as often as possible and try to avoid using large leaps too often.

 

In terms of controlling tension, it all comes down to how you space out your harmonies. Take the four notes: C, Db, D, Eb. If they were written as minor 2nds, stacked above middle C, they would sound very dissonant. But, if you were to space them out more, let's say Middle C, D in the octave above, and Db & Eb both in the octave above that, they would sound less dissonant and therefore less tense.  

 

You could honestly pick your notes completely by chance, and providing they were well spaced vertically to create a flow of tension and release, and made sense horizontally in terms of voice leading, they would sound fine.

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The question is, do you want to write exercises or artworks?

 

If you want to write exercises, I would advise you into a text much older than 200 years. If you want to write art, I would advise you to write some exercises.

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It all depends on what you want. You can't really trouble yourself with 300 year old rules when writing music today. 

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It all depends on what you want. You can't really trouble yourself with 300 year old rules when writing music today. 

 

Understanding functional harmony will give a better understanding when treating dissonance in a more modern way. I still thumb through Kent Kennan's counterpoint book, picking up tid bits here and there. 

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Understanding functional harmony will give a better understanding when treating dissonance in a more modern way. I still thumb through Kent Kennan's counterpoint book, picking up tid bits here and there. 

 

Well, the 'more' modern way often doesn't even distinguish dissonance from consonance where intervals are concerned. Many composers focus on other elements to create a sense of push and pull (texture, color, etc.)

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Well, the 'more' modern way often doesn't even distinguish dissonance from consonance where intervals are concerned. Many composers focus on other elements to create a sense of push and pull (texture, color, etc.)

 

Absolutely. In my experience, I was able to better grasp these elements you mentioned after first understanding tonal tendencies from back in the day. 

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Absolutely. In my experience, I was able to better grasp these elements you mentioned after first understanding tonal tendencies from back in the day. 

 

What a revolutionary concept.

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