The Book of Musical Knowledge: The History, Technique, and Appreciation of Music, Together with Lives of the Great Composers, for Music-Lovers, Students and Teachers

By Arthur Elson | Go to book overview

XL
THE CONTRAPUNTAL FORMS

WHEN the layman learns that counterpoint is simply part-writing, he takes the statement lightly. The student, however, who has been through a course in the heart-breaking rules that govern the leading of the parts, appreciates the fact that counterpoint is an important branch of music. The composer finds a knowledge of counterpoint almost indispensable; and the reader will remember that Schubert planned a thorough course in this branch just before his untimely death.

While composers in the harmonic style make use of counterpoint in a passing way, and allow suggestions of it to strengthen their works, there are also certain contrapuntal forms that are wholly independent of the harmonic style. Counterpoint is the science of combining melodies, instead of supporting a melody by chords.

Counterpoint is classified into five different varieties. In the first order, the different parts show note against note. In counterpoint of the second order, two (or sometimes three) notes of discant (accompanying part) are used for each one in the cantus firmus (fixed theme). The third order shows four notes against one. The fourth variety consists of syncopated counterpoint, in which each note of the discant begins when a note of the cantus is half done. The fifth variety, florid counterpoint, makes use of all the preceding kinds in a single composition.

Good examples of counterpoint as used in harmonic works may be found in the last part of the first section of the slow movement in Beethoven's Seventh Symphony, and also in the latter part of Wagner "Tannhäuser" March, where fairly rapid and regular bass notes are used against the return of the first theme, in chords. Counterpoint of the third order is suggested by both examples.

When two voices, or parts, are written in counterpoint, it is possible for the composer to make them of such a nature that they can be transposed as a whole with reference to each other, and made to

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The Book of Musical Knowledge: The History, Technique, and Appreciation of Music, Together with Lives of the Great Composers, for Music-Lovers, Students and Teachers
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations xi
  • Part I - The Evolution of Music 1
  • Part I the Evolution of Music 2
  • I - Primitive and Savage Music 3
  • II - Greece and Rome 13
  • III - Early Christian Music 23
  • IV - The Minstrel Knights 31
  • V - The Schools of Counterpoint 42
  • VI - The Harmonic Style 58
  • Part II - The Great Composers 67
  • Part II the Great Composers 68
  • VII - Bach 69
  • VIII - Handel 77
  • IX - Gluck 85
  • X - Haydn 91
  • XI - Mozart 98
  • XII - Beethoven 108
  • XIII - Schubert 120
  • XIV - Weber and Romanticism 128
  • XV - Mendelssohn 135
  • XVI - Schumman 143
  • XVII - Chopin 151
  • XVIII - Italian Opera 158
  • XIX - Cherubini and French Opera 170
  • XX - Berlioz and Other Frenchmen 179
  • XXI - Liszt and His Circle 188
  • Part III - Musical Form 307
  • XXXI - Melody and Appreciation 309
  • XXXII - Figures and Phrases 317
  • XXXIII - The Song-Forms 324
  • XXXIV - The Rondos 331
  • XXXV - The Sonata-Allegro Form 336
  • XXXVI - Other Sonata Movements 341
  • XXXVII - The Orchestral Forms 345
  • XXXVIII Dances and Piano Styles - Dances and Piano Styles 351
  • XXXIX - The Vocal Forms 360
  • XL - The Contrapuntal Forms 366
  • Part IV - The Instruments 376
  • XLI - The Piano and Its Predecessors 377
  • XLII - The Organ 384
  • XLIII - The Voice 391
  • XLIV - The Violin 398
  • XLV - Other Bowed Instruments *
  • XLVI - Plucked-String Instruments 413
  • XLVII - Flute and Piccolo 420
  • XLVIII - Oboe and English Horn *
  • XLIX - The Bassoons 433
  • L the Clarinets 438
  • Li Horns, Trumpets, and Cornets 444
  • Lii Trombones and Tubas 450
  • Liii Instruments of Percussion 456
  • Part V - Special Topics 463
  • LIV - Some Famous Pianists 465
  • LV - Some Famous Singers 474
  • LVI - Violinists and Violin Music 483
  • LVII - Orchestration 491
  • LVIII - Conducting 496
  • Lix Acoustics 503
  • LX - How to Read Music 515
  • LXI - Modern Music 538
  • Appendix 569
  • Index 581
  • Index to Supplementary Chapter 606
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