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Search the history of over billion web pages on the Internet. Englewood Cliffs, N. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form, by mimeograph or any other means, without permission in writing from the publishers. Jeppesen's Counterpoint is a textbook on the polyphonic vocal style of the sixteenth century. But it is no ordi- nary textbook, because it maintains an unusually happy balance between theoretical and practical problems, between historical and systematic methodology.
The present work is distinguished from the con- ventional treatise on counterpoint by its freedom from arbitrary rules and by its close adherence to a definite style period as a standard of reference. More and more, thoughtful musicians have come to realize that one can- not teach counterpoint "in general" without inviting endless controversy as to what is permissible and what is not. Hence a textbook based upon sound scholarly research in the music of a great period in the history of the art brings welcome relief to the serious but perplexed student and teacher of counterpoint.
The following suggestions may be helpful. Although the book is gen- erously supplied with musical examples, students should be required to examine other works of the period for purposes of comparison and per- formance.
Counterpoint: The Polyphonic Vocal Style of the Sixteenth Century
Tovey London: Augener Ltd. Larger libraries have the complete editions of the works of Palestrina by Hreitkopf und Hartel. The follow- ing editions are also recommended: Raph. Casimiri, Societatis Polyphonicae Romanae, 6 vols.
Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester, Before beginning three-part writing, students should try their hands at writing two-part motets using the motets of Lassus as models. After the first exercises on imitation in two parts, I have students join two of these sections together. The chief problems in this work are the use of imitation, the treatment of the intermediate cadence so as to avoid too pronounced a rhythmical break, and the construction of a strong final cadence.
From this sort of exercise to the construction of a motet of modest dimensions is but a step. Students are not only encouraged and pleased by such efforts but they derive great benefits therefrom. A verse or two from the Psalms or a simple couplet or quatrain will afford an ample text.
The course in modal counterpoint in the sixteenth century style is in- troduced in the third year of the curriculum in music at the University of North Carolina. Other institutions introduce it in the second or even the first year of the undergraduate course, while still others pursue such studies in the graduate school.
And strangely enough I believe either one of these plans can be justified — on different grounds, of course. Opin- ions may vary as to the best time to introduce the study of counterpoint in the curriculum, but in my opinion the important point is not when it shall be introduced but rather, first of all, that it be introduced some- where in the program and, second, that it be taught so as to give the stu- dent some insight into the principles of musical style both with respect to what is characteristic of the period and with respect to what is common to great musical compositions in many different periods.
Glen Haydon Chapel Hill, North Carolina PREFACE My book on the style of Palestrina, in which I investigated certain polyphonic problems of the sixteenth century in detail, 1 was exclu- sively a historical study of style, although the conclusions necessarily have pedagogical importance because of the close relation of the subject to contrapuntal theory. In spite of the purely scientific character of the treatise, therefore, attempts have been made to use it as a textbook in counterpoint at some German universities, though probably with little success.
I believe, however, I am justified in concluding that, at the present time, a need is felt for a textbook in counterpoint which takes into consideration the more recent research in the field of Palestrina's music. This thought has given me the desire and courage to work out this book.
I have therefore based my work on the laws of the Palestrina style, an idea which may seem strange to some. Of course I do not mean that modern composers should make Palestrina's style of expression their own — for that matter there seems to be little danger of this. Nevertheless I am convinced, just as a whole series of theorists have been for centuries, that from the style of Palestrina we can learn best what has always been the highest goal of the study of counterpoint.
It is recognized that musical theory has a retrospective as well as a descriptive character. Nobody has ever begun by manufacturing rules out of whole cloth.
First came music itself; only later could the principles of its creation — its theory — be deduced.
Counterpoint download free [PDF and Ebook] by Knud Jeppesen
For example, in the twelfth- and thirteenth-century art of the motet the so-called ars antiqua , the "Franconian" law, setting forth a prohibition against dissonances upon accented portions of the measure, was formulated by the theorists some time before it was carried out in actual practice. Likewise, although the prohibition against parallel fifths was proclaimed in the thirteenth century and was made more stringent by the theorists of the ix X PREFACE even among those only superficially acquainted with the music of various epochs, that no one style has ever had a command of all aspects of musical technique.
Usually each historical period or school concentrates upon its own peculiar fundamental problems and more or less neglects the others. A musician who wishes to gain command of a particular technique must first deeide just what it is he wishes to acquire, so that he can accordingly study those composers who mastered that technique.
One wishing to acquire compact, forceful voice leading naturally would not go to Chopin; nor would one study Obrecht for a refined, sensitive use of chromatic harmony.
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In counterpoint — the art of preserving the melodic independence of the voices in a polyphonic, harmonically acceptable complex — only two periods are to be considered seriously: the culminations in polyphonic music characterized by the names of Palestrina and Bach. Here we have a choice, and here, too, the ways divide.
A series of theorists extending far back into the sixteenth century based their teaching upon Palestrina. Among them were Cerone, J.
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Fux, Cherubini, Albrechtsberger, S. Another group, which began with John Philip Kirnberger and included E. Richter, S. Jadassohn, and Hugo Riemann, chose the art of Bach as its stylistic basis.
Ernst Kurth, who has recently joined this group, gives a clear, concise definition of the term counterpoint in the following words: 3 fourteenth, one cannot regard it as having been fully observed until the appearance of the a cap- pella composers of the Palestrina period.
Both prohibitions, however, present only apparent ex- ceptions — effects through whose operation theory and practice react upon one another.
Theorists discover in practical music a particular tendency, at first only slightly developed, and translate their observations thereof into rules.
But, according to their professional custom, they formulate these rules in an all too categorical and inelastic manner. Later, young composers who wish to gain practical knowledge study the writings of the theorists. A rule, once it is formulated on paper, can exert an influence out of all proportion to the importance previously attributed to it — can, indeed, exercise an almost magic power.
It becomes dangerous. Out of respect for what is written down, composers strive, perhaps half consciously, to bring their practice into the nearest possible accord with the inscribed rules. And thus the influence of theory reacts upon practice. A similar chain of reactions is to be found in the history of the Nordic languages. In Denmark, for example, at the beginning of the past century, pronunciations were common that varied more widely from the older ones than do those of current Danish speech — a fact that might suggest a somewhat peculiar development curve.
But here, too, the explanation is to be found in the in- fluence that the written word exerts upon practice. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, in Denmark, there was an unusually great increase of skill in reading. Thus, the written language, which, in comparison to ordinary spoken language, is always rather unchanging and conservative, exercised an influence upon the latter, and caused it to revert to earlier pronunciations.
Bern, Haupt, Page PREFACE XI The essence of the theory of counterpoint is how two or more lines can unfold simultaneously in the most unrestrained melodic development, not by means of the chords but in spite of them. Here Kurth is undeniably right; but from his hypothesis he finds the style of Palestrina less usable than Bach's as a basis for the teaching of counterpoint.
He writes of the former: 4 The inner dissolution of the linear foundation is shown in the weakening of the melodic independence of the voices. Their melodic treatment is more and more de- termined by the harmonic element; the lines adjust themselves to the progression of the chordal structure; the play of free melodic invention is reduced to gentler, wave- like motions — to undulations more levelled in contour and range; and the melodic effects, especially of the middle parts, are absorbed by harmonic effects.
It cannot be denied that in the Palestrina style, especially in homophonic passages and cadences, melodic idioms occur that are clearly the result of harmonic considerations. These, however, are only exceptions. For that matter, similar passages occur in every kind of style — and not least in Bach's. On the other hand I have found that, in Palestrina's style, the vertical, harmonic requirements assume merely the exclusively con- sonant, full harmony of the chords, in which modulatory relations play only a small part.
In Bach, however, certain chordal impulses, as Spitta has indicated, lie at the base of the musical structure; a certain modulatory disposition is present.
Bach's and Palestrina's points of departure are antipodal. Palestrina starts out from lines and arrives at chords; Bach's music grows out of an ideally harmonic background, against which the voices develop with a bold independence that is often breath-taking.
One should avoid comparisons between music and other arts; they are on the whole so different in character and material that a comparison is apt to prove quite pointless.
Nevertheless, one parallel is so striking that I feel it is worth mentioning, a parallel juxtaposing, on the one hand, the mutual relations between the polyphonies of Bach and Palestrina and, on the other in the field of art , the relations between the visual forms of expression of the renaissance and the baroque.
The independence is not the aimless one of primitive art; each separate detail is conditioned by the whole without, however, ceasing to be an entity.
Counterpoint: the polyphonic vocal style of the sixteenth century;
In baroque painting, for example in Rembrandt and Rubens, the unity is no longer a result; the artist begins with unity and works toward multiplicity. Certain broad principles of construction, such as that af- fecting the fall of the light, underlie the composition of the paintings.
The details that lend interest or suspense grow out of the whole. Not for a moment is there a danger that the presence of too many details, stand- ing strangely and coldly in opposition to one another, may prevent the observer from experiencing a sense of unity.
This danger, we may sup- pose, assailed the beholder of the paintings of the early Middle Ages and the listener to the motets of the ars antiqua. The unity in baroque paint- ing has pre-existence; it is the point of departure and the foundation of the whole. Again I should like to quote Wolfflin: 6 What, then, the baroque brings that is new is not unity in general, but that basic conception of absolute unity in which the part as an independent value is more or less submerged in the whole.
No longer do beautiful individual parts unite in a harmony in which they continue to maintain their individuality; the parts have been subordi- nated to a dominant central motive, and only the combined effect of the whole gives them meaning and beauty.
What Wolfflin says of baroque painting may well be applied, in the field of music, to the art of Bach. For example, as the light permeates Rem- brandt's "Night Watch," so a broad formative element is at the core of Bach's music.
This element is a motivating impulse, a chordal-modula- tory one. It is a streak of light which, to be sure, breaks up under the polyphonic approach, as if through a prism, into a glistening, sparkling play — a play whose variety, nevertheless, depends to a certain extent upon illusion. Naturally, nothing has been said regarding the polyphonic values in 5 Fourth Edition.
Munich, Bruckmann, From the pedagogical viewpoint, however, the art that takes chords into considera- tion the least must doubtless afford the best starting point for acquiring the technique of independent voice leading.
COUNTERPOINT THE POLYPHONIC VOCAL STYLE OF THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY PDF
Especially in Palestrina's favor in this connection seems to be the very strict economy of his style. It functions with such small, nicely calcu- lated means, and it husbands its effects so carefully, that surely nowhere else can one better learn to know and understand polyphonic material in its most minute details.
It may be said that in no other musical style does the fundamental contrast between consonance and dissonance appear so clearly as in Palestrina's. This is an advantage that can hardly be overestimated, especially in a period quite as prodigal with notes as ours.