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Challenge: Counterpoint ( A New Journey Begins)

Guest Forte1320

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Guest Forte1320

One of the problems with the music community today, is that we tend to focus on the end result of any skill we want to possess. We have records of when the masters succeed, but barely any records at all of the journey that got them there. Mastery requires three elements: resources, education, and perseverance. Many of us have access to at least one of these conditions. The purpose of this thread is to record the journey, the road map, to mastery. My teacher taught me two things when it came to any skill. 1. For one to master anything, it must be done perfectly 10,000 times. 2. Practice doesn't make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect. As a music enthusiast and practitioner, I shout out to all the educators and ambitious composers alike to partake and critique the many participants to flourish the music community to new heights. To all parties, the challenge is as follows. Become a master of counterpoint by writing 50,000 examples. (10,000 examples per species) Each example must be 9 notes in length minimum. Example criteria are as follows per species.

*there are 5 different species of counterpoint.

5,000 the cantus firmus must be above

5,000 the cantus firmus must be below

2,500 treble clef

2,500 bass clef

2,500 tenor clef

2,500 alto clef

2,500 key of C

2,500 key of G

2,500 key of D

2,500 key of F

3,000 begin with the interval of a 5th

3,000 begin with the interval of an 8th

3,000 begin with the interval of a 1st

1,000 Free Choice

1,250 Dorian

1,250 Aeolian

1,250 Phrygian

1,250 Locrian

1,250 Lydian

1,250 Ionian

1,250 Mixolydian

1,250 Hypomixolydian

I will post the rules of 1st species counterpoint shortly; however I encourage all participants to research and review good melodic writing as well as musical modes and intervals prior to starting. This will be a long journey ladies and gentlemen, but the results are worth it.

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Guest Forte1320

First species counterpoint: the eight basic principles.

1. We shall only use consonances. (no 4ths, 7ths, or augmented or diminished intervals.

2. We shall always start with a perfect consonance. If the counterpoint is in a lower voice, a unison or octave must be used.

3. Unison may only occur at the beginning and last note of a cantus firmus.

4. Perfect 8ths and 5th must be approached by contrary motion.

5. The interval between voices must never exceed a tenth.

6. No more than 3 successive 3rds or 6ths may be used in a row. This causes a lack of independence.

7. If both parts are to.skip in the same direction, neither voice may skip larger than a fourth.

*this does not pertain to an octave, for it acts as a type of repetition.

8. Contrary will always be used when available, when proper voice leading is necessary.

**mvt. Chain contrary-similar-parallel-oblique**

**cadences will always result in a ti, do relationship. 5 to 7 to 1 is not permitted. 2 to 7 to 1, 6 to 7 to 1, and 3 to 2 to 1 are the most acceptable.

*** a raised 7th will occur in all modes excluding phrygian, lydian, ionian.

****B can be flatted in all modes. Use b with extreme caution, especially when approaching with a skip. Most modes will avoid this tone or use very sparingly.

*****an interval of a m6 in a cantus firmus may used ascending only. M6, m7, M7 intervals in cantus firmus are not allowed.

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Challenging someone to compose 50,000 examples of a method of that isn't used much anymore is hard to ask of anyone. I could imagine if you asked a person to write 10 for fun and to pass the time. I would bet no one on here would be willing to compose 50,000 examples of traditional counterpoint because that is just too large and too time consuming. 


I can see where you're coming from in terms of the "journey to mastery," but a person can master this concept without having to do 50,000 examples of it, I can guarantee you that. I bought Fux's Study of Counterpoint, learned from that what I needed to know (which was all of the material contained in the book), and I was good. I maybe wrote 10 to 20 per species, and I had the concept learned and mastered. Writing 50,000 as a challenge is a waste of time and does nothing for a learner except waste the time he could spend on learning another subject or part of music. It's counter-productive.


I appreciate what you're trying to do, don't get me wrong, and I'm not meaning to sound negative, but if that is something you wish to do with your time, so be it, but you must think about what you're asking of others. 

Edited by MuseScience
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I'll force myself to say only this: if you want to spend this much time obsessively repeating a single technique, it had better be something that actually produces real music, rather than the "rules of counterpoint" from Gradus ad Parnassum, which no "master" has ever abided by.

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I appreciate all your rules of thought. I agree that what I have asked is a lot; however, there is a lesson to be learned here. There are no short cuts. If you put forth the effort, make the sacrifices necessary, you will succeed. Even if people aren't willing to follow it through 100%. The skills learned here will give birth to a new source of inspiration across the community. Not everyone here has the funds, nor the access to the best resources available, but they have dreams. If this challenge even brings one more composer to fruition, then I consider it worth it. It's been said that the trails of success have already been made, your choice is whether or not to walk them. We all know that all of the greats received extensive amounts of training. They were not born great; however, despite this, detailed lists of their learning exercises and patterns are rarely recorded. We all know the general idea of what got them there, what we don't know is how it got them there. How did they do it? What would it feel like to discover the how? REVOLUTIONARY! Imagine the possibilities. It could raise the musical caliber and musical prospects to astounding levels. An industry biased to chance and luck + skill could turn into a profession of prosperity upon educational completion. The thought of a future student immediately hired after graduation from college with a focus in composition is something I find inspirational. This challenge, though daunting, I wish to be beacon to all educators in the community to foster youth and aspire history. At the very least, the participant gains musical knowledge not normally known till' the college level. Thanks for all the responses! I wish nothing but the best for all of you.

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