Summer ad Parnassum (2:1 Dorian)

I started doing the 2:1 exercises over the weekend. Fux is hard core – he allows for passing tones (diminutions of a third) but not for neighbor tones. That hurts, J.J., that really hurts. On the other hand, he is a lot more permissive about leaps and Joseph’s counterpoints spring around like a gazelle on meth (lots of leaping but still very graceful). On the plus side, you can arpeggiate a triad and you don’t have to compensate for the leaps at the end. That was a big plus.

My strategies for these exercises was to start on the beat with one counterpoint and off the beat with the other.

2:1 Above Cantus

What I like: My peak note comes late in the game and I like the shape of the ascending line that begins all the descending lines (if that makes sense, look at mm. 1, 3, and 5 for the high notes). I also like the compound line created between the two beats in measures 8-10 (E-D-C sharp, B-A-B).

What I don’t like: The opening half dozen measures kind of noodles around in a limited range. Joseph manages to fit a descending D minor scale in the same space. I think Aloys likes him better than me.

2:1 Below Cantus

What I like: Boom! We are off like a rocket and a seventh away from my starting tone by measure 3. I think this counterpoint has a more varied contour than the upper voice counterpoint.

What I don’t like: The counterpoint hits its head against the ceiling of C4 for quite a while before I break through to the peak. On the one hand, I hear that as a good thing. On the other hand, I wish I could have broken through sooner. Having the peak note as the last note, in unison with the CF, really detracts from the high point of the counterpoint.

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6 Comments

  1. Posted May 23, 2011 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    Uh…

  2. Posted May 23, 2011 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    are you…

  3. Posted May 23, 2011 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    like…

  4. Posted May 23, 2011 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    grounded
    or

  5. Posted May 23, 2011 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    something?

  6. Jay C. Batzner
    Posted May 24, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    Or something, yeah. I am teaching counterpoint in the fall and using the Fux as my text. Going through these is helping me see my students’ future perspectives. I know that I will teach the subject better having done all this. As a plus, I like doing these kinds of exercises much in the same manner that I like doing crosswords.

    Also, I’ve been noticing a lack of counterpoint in the music I’m hearing. Most of the stuff I write doesn’t use a lot and most of the stuff I hear may claim to use “micro” counterpoint which, to me, sounds like texture (as opposed to independent lines). Part of me is curious if my own lack of contrapuntal writing is due to personal style or laziness.

    That and I’m seeing a more purified version of my melodic style emerge. I haven’t gained this kind of compositional insight since I was doing my old podcast.

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