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A Stylistic Approach to Species Counterpoint

Donald Loach
Journal of Music Theory, Vol. 1, No. 2. (Nov., 1957), pp. 181-200.
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A

STYLISTIC
SPECIES

APPROACH

TO

COUNTERPOINT

Donald Loach

Yale University

Contrapuntal writing with respect t o the polyphonic practice of
the 16th century h a s received considerable attention over the last four
decades. The investigations of P r o f e s s o r s R. 0. Morris, Knud Jeppesen, Arthur Tillman M e r r i t t and Gustave Soderland, t o mention a
few, and the teaching methods which they have provided a r e known t o
every instructor of iodalcounterpoint.
The species method established
by Johann Joseph Fux in his famous Gradus ad P a r n a s s u m (1725), having enjoyed a long and brilliant c a r e e r despite the loftyposition harmony attained in Kompositionslehren, h a s gradually suffered a decline.
F u x recognized P a l e s t r i n a l s stature. T o b e a contrapuntalist like
~alestrinw
a as the goal t o be attained. It h a s been found, however, that
Fux did not explain, (nor perhaps did he e v e r intend to!), the Palestrina
style a s such. Yet it cannot be denied that many of his students in two
hundred y e a r s have been, like Palestrina, fine m a k e r s of counterpoint.
Now, instructors searching f o r a m o r e general approach t o contrapuntal
writing have turned t o Hindemithf s E x e r c i s e s i n Two-Part Writing,
while those whose specific d e s i r e it h a s been t o explain the style of the
"Golden ~ g e "have turned to the style itself.
With the upsurge of interest in counterpoint a s a method
of composition in the 20th century, t h e r e have been attempts t o go back beyond both the Bach type of harmonic
counterpoint and the species and t o b a s e the study on the
r e s u l t s of careful analysis of music of the great polyphonic e r a of the late 16th century, o r in s o m e c a s e s
even e a r l i e r . 1
Those who have based t h e i r teaching of modal counterpoint on the
r e s u l t s of careful stylistic analysis of late Renaissance music warn
against beginning with chords. Attention, they advise, should be focused
melody
f o r chords r e s u l t only from the happy
on the linear element
coincidence of melodies sounding simultaneously. Freedom from the
controls which harmony h a s imposed upon melody in m o r e r e c e n t t i m e s
is n e c e s s a r y if this melodic style is t o b e understood and simulated.
Yet the informationprovided t o insure a melodic approach is frequently
vague or, perhaps necessarily, incomplete. F o r the nature of melody
in any style i s problematical. The r a r e commingling of intellectual,
cultural and psychoiogical f a c t o r s which contribute t o the composer's
intuitive genius for producing melody i s little understood. Melody's
alliance with that relatively unknown quantity, rhythm, i n c r e a s e s the
mystery. p e r h a p s it is due t o an inadequate symbolic vocabulary which

-

-

1. Merritt, Arthur Tillman, "counterpoint,
of Music, p. 192.

I'

Harvard Dictionary

Through writing and accurate performing of such exercises. A . we must r e l y on description and experience gained from performance. P r i m a r y sources.keeps t h e o r i s t s from a r e a l t h e o r y of melody. problems of mode. 2 . perhaps it is only now. literally. embrace the style and come t o know the meaning of counterpoint. - The r e m a r k s on melody which follow a r e directed t o t h i s end. cadence patterns and the like. p. The e x e r c i s e s which culminate this discussion a r e designed t o help the student r e t a i n a full awareness of the freely flowing rhythmic independence of melody while the problems of harmony a r e being solved. As f o r the t r e a t i s e s on counterpoint. and r e s t r i c t discussion of melodic s t r u c t u r e t o details of voice-leading and vague suggestions about. Any other approach is. deal almost exclusively with harmonic practice. Merritt. in o u r s and subsequent times. that a theory of rhythm which can explain the nature of form and.. but they a r e p r i m a r i l y devoted t o the a r t of singing. although their ultimate value is extreme. These manuals a r e concerned the a r t foremost with the singers' precious domain. Sixteenth-Century Polyphony: b a s i s for the study of counterpoint. tantalizing undulation is imperative. melody. A realization of the sup r e m a c y of melody and the underlying rhythmic flow which is responsib l e f o r i t s g r a c e and subtle. Arthur Tillman. Our understanding of renaissance melodic style r e m a i n s empirical. . The e a s e and grace with which it moves rhythmically a r e astonishing t o one who knows only eighteenth-and nineteenth-century music . having melody everywhere about him. T r e a t i s e s on melody exist. made through the back door. thence. s o f a r removed. 35. the r i s e and fall of the line. Our observations a r e at b e s t speculative. they. a r e disappointing. s o through melody it must be approached. The student in the 16th century. the f o r c e s of rhythm a r e probably paramount. the student may consciously. do tpday. Yet it r e m a i n s that if this style is truly primarily melodic. and through further creative efforts. invaluable. at best. not accidentally. will begin t o b e written. of course. l i e s not only in the rhythm of the ensemble but a l s o in the rhythmic diversity that the various individual voices have in contrast with each other. The exact nature of such 2. Rhythmic Aspects of the Melodic Style Sixteenth-century music is a s outstanding on account of the elasticity and diversity of i t s rhythms a s it is on account of i t s singable intervals. by and large. undoubtedly encountered fewer ambiguities during his instruction than we.This freedom. What i s meant by rhythmic diversity o r freely flowing melodic rhythm? Of the many factors which contribute t o melodic flow. improvisation of "enlivening the counterpoint.. like their modern counterparts. " T h e i r clues regarding the disposition of florid figures are.

forces remains. A large portion of late renaissance music is notated under those conditions imposed by the symbol $. when speaking of the accented pulse of the rhythmic unit. Perhaps the most frequently cited method for achieving s t r e s s is the so-called agogic accent. So strongly. e. then. o r ally itself with meter. the unit may be composed of two o r three pulses. 3. per minute. There is some evidence which suggests that. in most cases.. How. binary and ternary units may succeed each other in any order t o produce the f r e e rhythmic quality of this style. audible o r imagined.. It is necessary to bear in mind. tempus imperfectum diminutum cum prolatione minore. either binary o r ternary. in his Practica musicae (1496) states that the length of the semibreve may be equated with the normal human pulse-beat. Furthermore. The construction of a simple rhythmic unit may be one of only two possibilities. if you will. i s the minim represented in all but one c a s e here as a halfnote. The term agogic o r agogik i s of recent origin havingappeared for the first time in H. is the force of the "agogic" accent felt that it may almost be said t o c a r r y its own s t r e s s with it. It i s recognized.. a s one progresses further into the 16th century.a note not been s o reinforced [i. and under this sign the basic pulse. unclear. Riemannls Musikalische Dynamik und Agogik (1887). the duration of the semibreve increases. In conformity with 16th-century practice. however. is the rhythmic order clarified? What a r e the aural qualities which give melody i t s rhythmic flow? The accented pulse of a binary o r ternary rhythmic unit is most often clarified by some kind of non-dynamic stress. A s t r e s s may be achieved by one particular means. 4. Without recourse t o prosodic analogies it may be seen that the curious flow of renaissance melody is due primarily t o the peculiar disposition of rhythmic units. i. There is no evidence in the music o r documents of the time to indicate that the dynamic accent was part of the composers1 o r performers1 vocabulary. e. Gafurius. The simple rhythmic unit in this style is the organization of two o r three of these basic pulses. accented. this basic pulse will proceed at a tempo of 120-144 M. that movement through time is achieved in large part by the succession of simple rhythmic units which may be likened t o units of energy. that accent here c a r r i e s with it no implication of dynamic s t r e s s .M. Unobliged t o establish a pattern of sameness. only one pulse in a rhythmic unit may be considered dominant or. . a s was suggested previously. when a s a matter of fact it has . making the listener imagine it has been s o reinforced by s t r e s s . o r by the interaction of several. indeed. dynamically] which is either preceeded o r followed (and still more .

In the music of e a r l i e r renaissance composers. 6. be dangerous. F e l l e r e r . the editions of English Madrigals by Edmund H. The combined operation of s t r e s s e d text syllables and agogic accents clarifies the f r e e rhythmic flow even m o r e exactly. 22. i. f o r example. See Zarlino. 8. This is not designed t o contradict the various rhythmic patterns of prosody. a close t i e between text and music. Isaac. too. The influences of extra-musical doctrines had not yet been felt. Fellows. A mixture of binary and t e r n a r y rhythmic units is realized through the grouping of s t r e s s e d and non-stressed pulses." s e r v e s to demonstrate this (Example 2). e. Kennedy. Scott. Ch. In plainsong. 5 This accent. the relationships a r e quite different. Contrapuntal Technique in the Sixteenth Century. one that is both preceeded and followed) by notes of s m a l l e r value than itself tends t o have the force of an accent . i n part by Oliver Strunk in Source Readings in Music History. semibreves and dotted minims. " w h e r e Art Thou Wanton. Heinrich. The coincidence of rhythmic accent in text with musical rhythm i s common only in styles after 1540. Die Deklamations . The cantus of Thomas M o r l e y t s Canzonet f o r t h r e e voices. In the motets and madrig a l s of the late 16th century the rhythm of melody and text a r e closely allied. Jahrhunderts. It is convenient t o Example l6 I - r e f e r t o the accented pulse a s the f i r s t pulse in the rhythmic unit and t o bracket the t e r n a r y units.8 Quite rightly no rhythmic pattern is discernable until the fourth note since rhythm willnot develop until thepulse i&established. p. thereby aiding the inexperienced perf o r m e r o r student in the recognition of the rhythmic units. is r a r e . Madrigal Singing.. The t e m p o r a r y cessation of movement provides a s t r e s s which is usually s t r o n g enough t o clarify the rhythm (Example 1). K. achieved by length o r duration. 0.. Book IV. Missa Carminum. Istitutioni harmoniche. and by the rhythm of the text.. however. G.strongly. The establishment of rhythmic flow frequently r e s u l t s from the placement of accented syllables of the text. is unmistakable. in this sense. Morris. Reliance on text placement can. S t r e s s is provided by the notes of longer duration. but only t o clarify the position of s t r e s s e d pulses. R.Rhythmik in d e r Vokalen Polyphonie d e s 16. p. 5. - - . trans. 253 ff. Gioseffo. 7.

. f o r certain "tradi- .Example 2 demonstrates s t i l l another way in which s t r e s s is Example 2 thee? and Z ro Lon B a- achieved. sung with careful r e g a r d f o r the rhythmic organization of each voice.- A full appreciation ofthe implications of f r e e rhythmic flow i s not a s easily realized and enjoyed a s one would hope. particularly through the accent s t r e s s e d by leaps. Through melodic shape.rigorous counterpoint which r e s u l t s from the f r e e rhythmic flow of melodies sounding together. the opening section of Lassus1Rosa. Sicut A performance of Example 3.. Example 3 SL - - cut *o -.- - --'&a A . further support of agogic s t r e s s is made t o define the rhythm even m o r e clearly. will demonstrate the .

The usual questions arise: How is it possible t o disregard the accents which m e t e r imposes? I s not the an indication of a basic m e t e r . l o 9. that the t i m e signature h a s been completely disregarded. it s e e m s . a r e frequently s o imposed upon this melodic style that the vitality of rhythmic diversity is clouded o r even lost. the $ o r other analogous signs being m o r e ordinarily r e s e r v e d f o r brief passages in which one hears. the reason f o r i t s almost exclusive use beginning with the second third of the 16th century. in the final analysis. of the value of the notes. it is not surprising that @ was.. Charles. Speaking of the sign $..C'est.. i l n'est pas surprenant que le C b a r r e ait gt. T h i s is surely. D. Comme c e s r s g l e s sont beaucoup plus simples que. The Notation of Polyphonic Music 900-1600. and nothing but that. in the examples above. pour l a valeur d e s notes. Yet. after all. See Apel.129.. . the system of notation employed in the 15th and 16th centuries. 10. As these r u l e s a r e much s i m p l e r than those which govern tempus perfectum. symbols such a s this one indicate that written notes will receive particular temporal values. after the proper r u l e s according t o tempus imperfectum. P r o f e s s o r Van den B o r r e n writes: It i s . s o m e of which may even b e considered basic hypothes e s . 6 t u d e s s u r l e ~ u i n z i s m e~ i G c l e Musical. et r i e n que pour cela. repr&ente p a r un 0 ou un 0 b a r r e . the 0. dqapr'es l e s r s g l e s p r o p r e s au tempus imperfectum.96ff.pp. an empirical way of informing int e r p r e t e r s . p r e f e r r e d t o those two latter signatures f o r u s e a s a general indicator for i n t e r p r e t e r s . In other words.celles qui gouvernent 15 tempus perfectum. en fin de . this is not entirely the case. en somme. The admonition "not t o begin with chords" in approaching the 16th-century style is clearly made t o relieve melody of unnecessary harmonic burdens and concent r a t e attention onthe linear elements. Probably no single force may inhibit melodic flow m o r e than an emphasis on the "traditional" r o l e of meter.. It would seem. f o r does it not imply 412 time symbol with a p r i m a r y and secondary accent falling on beats one and t h r e e respectively. un moyen empirique d'indiquer aux interprktes q u f i l s doivent s e guider. prolatio minor. by the skillful intervention of a m o r e o r l e s s p r e c i s e t e r n a r y rhythm. a contrast with the m o r e o r l e s s indeterminate rhythm represented by $. 4th ed. prolatio minor.tional" concepts. while beats two and four remain relatively unaccented? Unhappily. s o they may be guided. Van den Borren. prolatio m inor. Some s u c c e s s h a s been achieved. the removal of harmony t o a slightly m o r e subordinate position hardly s e t s things aright. 4 In white m e n s u r a l notation. represented by 0 o r @. prolatio minor. a mensuration sign informs the p e r f o r m e r that certain specific r u l e s f o r determining note duration a r e t o be followed. Willi. - - I 1~ - .

Throughout most of the 16th century the tactus unit was the semibreve. T o r e g a r d the mensuration sign $ a s representing 412 t i m e may not be inappropriate provided it i s understood only a s a the length of tones in time. of the syncopation? Without a strong m e t r i c a l beat. un contras. pr6f6rd c e s deux d e r n i e r s signes pour s e r v i r d'indicateur g&6ral aux interpr\etes. . This measurement i s made not by the regular r e c u r r e n c e of accents. then. The implications attached t o m e t e r in those s t y l e s which come after 1600 cannot b e successfully imposed upon the renaissance style. which. C b a r & ? t i e r s du XVIe si&le. i. the f i r s t being thetic and the second being a r s i c . that m e t e r a s the regular r e c u r r e n c e of strong and weak beats is felt. m e a s u r e of duration - What becomes. Although the harmonic flow may be allied with meter. At a l l c o s t s it is n e c e s s a r y t o be f r e e of m e t e r a s a persistent underlying motor pattern under which a l l flow becomes subsumed. the idea of the thesis being accented and the arsis being unaccented is not implicit in the t e r m tactus. but r a t h e r the measurement i s made i n t e r m s of t i m e units. a s we have seen. the articulation of rhythmic o r d e r is not coincident with the m e t r i c order. It is with the r i s e of functional harmony and the n e c e s s a r y vertical o r ganization of texture which accompanied it along with the iqcreasing importance of dance music and the development of a primarily homophonic style. semble-t-il. is irresistable. Meter. Likening the words'thesis and a r s i s t o downbeat and upbeat. le 0 b a r r e ou d'autres signes analogues &ant le plus ordinairement r & e r v 6 s 2 de b r e f s passages. proceeded at the human pulserate. In compte. the establishment of a m e t e r a s the regular r e c u r r e n c e of accented o r unaccented beats is thought t o be accomplished by the tactus. in the 16th century. Yet again. does it not lose i t s meaning. p a r l'intervention d'un rythme t e r n a i r e plus ou moins pr6cis. Example 1 demonstrates that the tactus is providing only the basic pulse which i s the minim. The t h e s i s and the arsis a r e m e r e l y pulses which receive their n a m e s from the motion of the c h o i r m a s t e r ' s a r m a s he provides the beat which will hold a l l voices of the concento together. l a raison pour pia r t i r du deuxieme laquelle on n'utilise plus gu&e que le. The tactus i s formed of two parts.te avec l e rythme plus ou moins indgtermin.. a rhythm may frequently be established which coincides with the tactus. le 0. which n a m e s a r e applied t o the two minims of the semibreve in &.F o r some. Yet. - Assuredly. repr6sent6 p a r l e C b a r r e . C'est bien li. But t o cause a conscious accent t o f a l l on every other pulse in a renaissance melody would deny the melodic line i t s own rhythmic independence. dans lesquels on entend mgnager. since we tend to r e g a r d the syncopation a s a misplacement of the m e t r i c beat employed t o dist u r b the dominant m e t r i c flow? Many examples from the literature of the period can b e found which would s e e m t o support this definition. means measure. a coincident rhythmic organization seldom exists.e. m e t e r is a m e a s u r e of duration. respectively. a t h e s i s and an &. r e gretably.

(such an explanation being impossible since accent o r strong beat i s a concept foreign t o e a r l y theory). which it i s im ortant t o p a s s over by making it a simple abstraction. plus exactement. m.. a syncope s e e m s clearly evident. These syncopes. these pseudo-syncopes because they have not in any way the effect of hindering the rhythm and causing that which we call today the syncopation -these pseudo-syncopes encounter. - - . Willi. m o r e exactly. "12 In Example 5 a binary rhythm is clearly established by the introductory semibreves and paired minims. poursuivie dans le s e n s d'une b r i s u r e progressive de l a rggularitG rythmique. d a n s l a b a r r e de mesure. . 12. .Example 4. not a s it is today. a factitious obstacle. p. by means of contrivances which exhibit the appearance of syncopes in modern transcriptions.. p. Apel. of course. in the barline.. Under such a condition a psychological accent will be felt on the third minim in the word manus only t o be followed on the next pulse. (Any dynamic bump on the following thesis is. l'&olution ultcrieure s ' e s t nettement 11. discussing the development of the renaissance style from that of the preceeding A r s Nova. au moyen d'artifices qui offrent ltapparence de syncopes dans l e s transcriptions modernes. P r o f e s s o r Van den Borren. C e s syncopes ou. Yet it r e m a i n s that in such a style a s this one. Harvard Dictionary of Music. or. e x p r e s s e s himself quite clearly on this matter: . but a s a separation of a normal group of notes by the insertion of l a r g e r values. completely outside w. t h e further evolution proceeded clearly in the direction of a progressive breakdown of the rhythmic regularity. tretemps un obstacle ill/egitime. qu'il importe de f r a n c h i r e n en faisant purement e t simplement abstraction. 128. the opening p h r a s e of a L a s s u s bicinia. 727. a synExample 4 cope which depends upon a strong beat f o r definition is lacking. This rhythm may be expected t o perpetuate itself. f o r the idea of a consistent rhythm i s foreign t o this style. An explanation of it in something approaching i t s own t e r m s is found in the theoretical writings of the 14th century where "syncopation is explained. the by another accent of a stronger nature. c e s pseudo-syncopes c a r e l l e s nlont nullement pour effet de r e t e n i r le rythme et de provoquer c e que nous appelons aujourd'hui d e s conc e s pseudo-syncopes r e contrent. 1 - f The syncopation i s a result of the rhythmic flow of melody.

Des P r e s . Josquin. arsis T h e u s e of the t e r m syncope synonymously with suspension. It h a s only t o d o with t h e rhythmic o r d e r a s i t i s 13. but the disposition is arighted immediately t h e r e a f t e r .. T h i s pulse..of the style. 15. Example 6 d e m o n s t r a t e s even m o r e extensive syncopations: Example 614 Zarlino's explanation.0 I Et A- - I- 0 . Istitutioni harmoniche. 1558. Zarlino. 209.d. m a y be called a syncope. Gioseffo.. Isaac. Book 111. a s s o m e do. All i s rectified before the next semibreve.- / I rl nus b i n a r y unit. in no way contradictory t o the above explanation. a s e m i b r e v e o r dotted minim which begins i t s sound on the a r s i s may b e s a i d t o be syncopated. an e r r o r .. A syncope l i e s completely within t h e r e a l m of rhythm. of c o u r s e . however. .15 In other words. Stetit autem Saloman. M i s s a Carminum. The two p u l s e s ( 0 u ) of a b i n a r y unit have been s e p a r a t e d by an i n s e r t e d Example 513 (-----) u n/ I h b y. T h e pulse which should follow the one on the syllable 9 of manus i s s e p a r a t e d f r o m i t by t h e i n s e r t e d binary groups on the s y l l a b l e s s u a s in cae-. the t h e s i s . an unaccented pulse is displaced. is. h a s only been displaced. Proceeding f u r t h e r another syncope o c c u r s when. Heinrich. again.t A I ma- h 0 h 1 . s e r v e s a s a convenient definition useful in the p r a c t i c a l c r e a t i v e work in 16th century counterpoint: A note which begins on the of the t a c t u s and is retained beyond t h e next pulse. 14. p. ) Two rhythmic accents have o c c u r r e d without an i n t e r vening pulse. Venice. Still another displacement follows.

r a t h e r than propagating a variation of the study of harmony. It is primarily relegated t o cadence formulae where it participates in the clarification of s t r u c t u r e by helping t o make harmonic. Since pedagogy in counterpoint began. however. of course.anthe thesis. While it is t r u e that certain 16th-century theorists concentrated t h e i r efforts in explainingthe harmonic style. we can hardly expect our students t o have an inherent understanding of this melodic style. The cantus-firmus employed comes from the Gregorian r e p e r t o i r e and should be one already familiar t o the student. the minim. The close similarity between the music of the Renaissance . which must occur . the f r e e creative work in the style will be f o r the student discouragingly difficult. The f r e e rhythmic nature of this melodic style is dealt with concurrently with the harmonic problems t o provide skill in both areas. F o r without f i r s t pointing the concentration t o particular stylistic problems. follow. The t e r m "species counterpoint" c a r r i e s with it today certain unfortunate connotations. it will be founded primarily uponthe "be1 canto'' of m o r e recent times. It s e e m s appropriate t o provide work materials which will afford a continuous awareness of melody and help the student develop a skill in the handling of melodic rhythm. The suspension is an harmonic fact. E x e r c i s e Type I The f i r s t e x e r c i s e is note-against-note counterpoint. The e x e r c i s e s which follow a r e designed t o help the student develop techniques in both melody and harmony. Despite continuous reference t o this style a s an essentially melodic one and despite the recognition and altogether too brief exposition of the f r e e rhythmic nature of this melodic style. melody being everywhere about them.related t o the basic pulse. But it is hoped that a s the elements of melody. the value of contrapuntal exercises is considerable. A careful performance of each exercise completed must. The vitality of the resulting counterpoint will be clearly evident. rhythm. rhythmic and tonal o r d e r s explicit. Exercises in Contrapuntal Writing The various approaches t o composition in the 16th-century style seemingly deny melody i t s rightful place. is dependent upon an existing syncope. l 6 16. The balance of musical factors is indeed difficult t o retain in any discussion of style. no c l e a r e r method has been found t o explain the basic harmonic material. This dissonance. their respective r o l e s may be enjoyed with new vigor. Emphasis is bound t o be given one a r e a a t the sacrifice of another. but occurs m o r e infrequently than the syncope. If they have a natural melodic utterance at all. m e t e r and harmony a r e rebound together. the harmonic problems invariably smother melodic concepts.

and the analysis of the f r e e rhythmic flow of these melodies. p. 18. 97. The l a t t e r is highly practic a l if frequent reference t o modern performing editions is made. when written in whole-notes. trans. p. 17. however. Twelve full c l a s s sessions spent with chant in a normal. from this point on.- ia. bearing in mind whatever "rules" have been established regarding the progression of and plainsong h a s been pointed out frequently. The rhythmic flow of Gregorian melodies is important.- lu. particularly the melodic style of the 16th century and the rhythmic style of the 20th. Dom ~ n d r 6 . A study of the rhythm of chant a s s e t forth by the Benedictines of Solesmes is essential if chant is t o be used a s a pedagogical instrument t o demons t r a t e the f r e e rhythmic flow of renaissance melody. Example 718 A - . 39-hour s e m e s t e r is not disproportionate. volume I. and the performing of these melodies and the writing of s i m i l a r ones will give the student a feeling f o r rhythmic and melodic style which is invaluable. s e e Mocquereau. The whole-note s e r v e s the present exposition better because of i t s exact correspondence t o the s e m i b r e v e of the m e n s u r a l notation system. s e e e r Usualis (with introduction and r u b r i c s in English). p a r t I. . It s e e m s m o r e advantageous. the tactus. Therefore. If the student has transcribed the notes of the chant a s eighth-notes. the Alleluia in Mode IV (Example 7) becomes.. F o r the theory. the cadential function and the over-all structure.L e Nombre musical gr&gorian. F o r the Solesmes edition of the Gregorian notation. by Aileen Tone. each note may be written a s a whole-note o r a s a half-note. F o r example. Liber Usualis. xxvi ff. It would be hoped that no one would attempt t o explain the 16th-century style without f i r s t devotingconsiderable attention t o the style of Gregorian melodies. When the cantus-firmus is s e t down it is well t o clarify the rhythm by bracketing the t e r n a r y units and placing an ictus.. o r vertical line. l 7 Any haphazard grouping of the rhythmic units o r "rubato" approach t o the melodic patterns will only reduce the usefulness of chant a s an introduction t o this style. T h e student composing a counterpoint above and below the given cantus-firmus will proceed in the customary way. under the note which corresponds t o the s t r e s s e d pulse. the cantus-firmus in Example 8 of note-against-note counterpoint. Nothing need be unlearned in approaching any l a t e r style. it may be practical t o u s e eighth-notes here. t o choose nowthe note value which will be. The study of the modes and the melodic patterns which give each mode i t s particular individuality.The note value employed need not conform t o the whole-note with which we a r e familiar. .

It should become a s much a p a r t of the student's aesthetic appreciation a s the harmonic elements which s o unobtrusively bind the melodies together. to use long-notes (breves) occasionally s o he may recognize how notes of longer duration clarify the melodic rhythm. then s e v e r a l times at a moving tempo ( 0 = 120 M.).M. vary according to the p r i m a r y and secondary s o u r c e s the instructor chooses t o follow. In his melodies. When the student h a s a solid g r a s p of techniques s o far. Such r u l e s do. T h e effect of the rhythmic counterpoint should be well tasted. internal closes. which may o r may not coincide with those of the cantus-firmus. . 19. indeed. however. remembering that length produces s t r e s s and that "groups of one" a r e impossible. The exercise should be sung f i r s t at a slow tempo with attention being paid t o intervals and voice-leading. l 9 He should be encouraged. he may b e asked t o write counterpoints against longer melodies of m o r e than one phrase (Example 9). The greatest distance permitted between the voices i s a m a t t e r for the instructor t o decide. should be created. Example 8 The finished melody should be analyzed in o r d e r t o establish clearly the flow of rhythmic units.intervals.

Attention should b e focused entirely on the melodic c h a r a c t e r of the voice being written against the cantus-firmus. Liber Usualis. and (2) it points up through exaggeration the contrapuntal effect which o c c u r s when one voice moves i n t e r n a r y rhythm against another in binary rhythm. 125. If the cantusf i r m u s permits. At f i r s t no dissonances may b e permitted (Example 10). the final unison shouldbe preceeded with a minor third o r the final octave with a m a j o r sixth.). The minim o r half-note is the basic pulse ( d = 120-144 M. One o r two binary units may need t o be employed t o bring both voices t o the final together. p. Cantus-firmus is a " ~ e n e d i c a m u s . ~ o m i n o "in Mode 11.M. 20.O A t D l C ~ A a I I Q I A n O - I E x e r c i s e Type I1 The second e x e r c i s e s e r v e s two purposes: ( I ) it t r a i n s the student in the u s e s of dissonance.Example g 2 0 1- I / D - ' U a 0 1 O .

. that the rhythmic flow be always clear. f i r s t of all. No evidence of dynamic s t r e s s is found in the music o r in the documents of the period. it will be found that the rhythmic vitality of this style will be additionally clarified when the accented pulse of the rhythmic unit is given the slightest dynamic ( ! ) s t r e s s . T o achieve this end it becomes necessary. p. - 97. Truly. F u r t h e r . t o r e f r a i n from giving any kind of m e t r i c accent. . if this style is t o be understood and appreciated. they a r e completely absent.Example lo2' The student who h a s heard and performed extensively certain contemporary s t y l e s may have little trouble performing these e x e r c i s e s . Some students find that the rhythmic units will flow m o r e easily if numbers a r e given t o the pulses a s shown above. the voices will move together properly. Cantus-firmus i s an Alleluia in Mode VI. Second of all. Ibid. any unaccented pulse which may fall on the thesis should be treated lightly. it may even be said that the rhythmic delights of renaissance music a r e f a r from being mysterious. but f o r the 20th-century 21. It i s important. F o r others and for l a r g e sections of concert audiences the rhythmic delights in the music of the 16th and 20th centuries r e m a i n mysterious. The arrangement of consonant and dissonant intervals will provide a l l the m e t r i c o r d e r that i s necessary: If a c l e a r pulse beat i s maintained.

p. 22. those things which the modern audience depends on f o r i t s understanding and enjoyment of a style. " . 789. The rule is simple: Never bring one of these dissonances on the accented pulse of the rhythmic unit o r against an accented pulse in the other voice. and the cambiata. Exceptions to this rule should be withheld until the student i s ready t o consider certain elaborations of the basic cadence formulae. Liber Usualis. dissonance may be introduced (Example 11). The cantus-firmus of this and a l l subsequent examples i s taken from the E a s t e r Sequence " ~ i c t i m a e paschali laudes.audience such s t r e s s e s a r e frequently required. F i r s t Example 1 1 ~ ~ he may deal only with such"accidents" a s the passing o r returning note. When the student has developed e a s e and accuracy in performing these exercises. in the name of proper performance practice. for through them the integrity of the style may s t i l l be carefully maintained without s a c r i ficing.

ed pulse. The suspension must resolve downward a diatonic step. The cantus-firmus. The problem is e a s y if t h e s e conditions a r e observed: Example 12 1. a dotted minim). The f i r s t pulse i s called the preparation (P). 4. Because it is an accent. within a t e r n a r y group. The dissonance must occur onthe thesis ofthe cantus-firmus. and the third pulse (or last half ofthe second). as in this exercise. . 3. it must be consonant with the cantus-firmus. the second pulse the suspension (S). the resolution (R). This note will be a semibreve ( o r later. The suspension usually occurs.Finally the student is prepared t o deal with the suspension dissonance (Example 12). must have i t s accented pulse on the thesis. of course. 2. The rhythm of the voice which will c a r r y the suspension must (of the be such that an accented pulse falls on the preceeding cantus-firmus).

The student should be kept f r o m backsliding. He may need t o be warned again not t o bring a dissonance. . the beauty of this f r e e l y moving melodic style. unbarred. but s e r v e s only a s a notational convenience for the r e a d e r when voice p a r t s a r e placed above one another in score. Any tendency t o replace rhythmic flow with a regular m e t e r should cost him his bar-line. however. Anyone who has been obliged t o "cut his part. like the score. on an accented pulse. The use of bar-lines of this type. is a development of the 17th century. perhaps quite painfully. It is not an indicator of a p r i m a r y rhythmic organization. for a p e r f o r m e r usually had only h i s own part before him." reading from a part-book. Example 13 If the student has gained a writing and performing proficiency with melodic rhythm. can not help recognizing. Here the student's attention i s on melodic and rhythmic factors primarily while practice with the h a r monic style continues.Exercise Type 111 The next exercise is characterized by the alternation of binary and t e r n a r y units (Example 13). Examples of them in the 16th century a r e extremely r a r e . the modern bar-line may be superimposed upon his exercises. He must fully understand i t s function. except the suspension. of course.

The cantus-firmus may now be drawn from any source. taking a phrase here. the successful working-out of this e x e r c i s e will produce a phrase of two-part music r e sembling hundreds of such biciniae from the literature of the period. o r even entire sections of two-and three-part texture. Rather. s e v e r a l b a r s there. Example 13 becomes: Example 14 Exercise Type IV It is no longer n e c e s s a r y t o proceed in a stylistic vacuum. Example 15 b e a r s no unrealistic elements. Just a s the composers themselves drew upon each other for "subject" matter. therefore.Adopting the conventional barring system for this music. b e a freely flowing melody against which the student will compose his own counter-melody. . we may adopt one o r two p h r a s e s o r even e n t i r e sections of a 16th-century motet to s e r v e a s a tenor for bicinia o r t r i c i n i a composition. The cantus-firmus o r tenor will.

Example 15 . In addition. he may be ready t o consider the problem of textsetting with particular r e g a r d f o r the coincidence of s t r e s s e d syllables and longer note values. At t h i s time. e. he m a y benefit from a discussion of ornament. the various florid patterns of s m a l l e r notes which will eventually become essential t o the melodic flow of h i s future compositions in the style. and he m a y t r y his hand at imitation (Examples 16 and 17).ten+ Ch&-&i- a -- mi. me .. i. .

. Through a n a l y s i s of the music o f t h i s period and f u r t h e r c r e a t i v e work he should b e able t o build significant m u s i c a l s t r u c t u r e s in t h i s style.Example 1 6 Example 1 7 T h e student should now have a g r a s p of the b a s i c techniques of the s t y l e andthe meaning of counterpoint shouldbe quite c l e a r .