Counterpoint in Composering: In-class work

Today in my counterpoint class we worked through our first three-voice first species exercises. I put a cantus firmus on the board and we talked through all the considerations of 1:1 in three voices.

Here is what we came up with:

The biggest issue we ran into as class time ran out was how to get a peak in the soprano line (the F in measure 6) while still compensating for the E-flat to B-flat leap immediately thereafter. Also, the middle voice has a prominent melodic tritone shape in measures 3 – 6 which, as an isolated line, bugged us. Other than that, this seemed to be the best of all possible options for our first outing.

I worked through an alternate solution right after class during my office hours. I was able to fix both problems. I wanted to maintain the opening of our example and retain as much as I could while still showing a sense of revision. Here is what I did:

What I changed:

Moving from an 8/3 sonority to an 8/5 in measure 3 took care of the middle voice’s tritone. Also, putting the cadential resolution of ti-do in the middle line let me compensate for the soprano’s leap to (and from) the peak note. While that leap to and from the peak F in measure 6 is certainly not ideal, I do spend the rest of the line filling in the gaps. I can’t think of another way of peaking on that F and compensating without leading to parallel octaves.

What a minute. I’ll be right back.

What about this?

So moving the peak note to the G in measure 7 allowed for immediate compensation and I ended up with more variety in the soprano line overall. The middle line keeps its peak and while I’m using more ties than I ought to, I think the line still has direction and shape. Yes, now my soprano and bass are in parallel 10ths for 4 notes in a row but I could fix that by moving the soprano to an F in the last measure (causing unequal fifths with the middle voice, I think 4 10ths is better).

The other thing I’m doing is learning Lilypond. One of the first things I did was learn to replace the default font (ugh) but I can’t quite make the scripting work out to hide the time signatures. Baby steps. I’m learning. I used to put my counterpoint homework into Finale when I worked as a monitor in the music computer lab at KU back in ’94. It just feels like the right way to learn Lilypond.

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One Comment

  1. Jack
    Posted September 17, 2013 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    Whoops! Commented on the wrong blog post. Ah well. Here it is again:

    Try this under \layout in Lilypond:

    \context {
    \remove “Time_signature_engraver”

    I have a load of other snippets and such in case you’d like to peruse what I’ve done so far.

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