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Counter point in music

Music Theory
1 Nov 2009 14:46 | Quote
Joined: 24 Aug 2009
United States
somone explain it to me
1 Nov 2009 15:14 | Quote
Joined: 25 Jul 2007
United States
Lessons: 12
Licks: 42
Karma: 38
Independent melodic lines within a piece of music. A counter point is almost like a peddle tone in that it is a constant phrase of notes played together with another phrasing of notes. The only difference is that a counterpoint is normally two phrases that are only connected through rhythm and key.

For example:

This is finger picked...

G-5-4-------5-4--------- --|
D----------------------- |-- Two separate phrases played together
A-3-2-0-0-0-3-2-0-0-0--- --|

28 Jan 2010 10:27 | Quote
Joined: 27 Jan 2010
United States
Lessons: 4
Karma: 1
A counterpoint consists of two or more independent contour melodies, they are rhythmically and harmonically independent. A counterpoint has five different categories: First species, second species, third species, fourth species, and fifth species.

Explained in brevity, here are the following examples:

1) First species counterpoint

A first species counterpoint is a note-against-note melody. An example of this is provided by Guitarslinger.

2) Second species counterpoint

Second species counterpoint is two notes-against-one note. For example, if one voice plays a quarter-note, the second voice will play two eighth-notes; two half-notes plays against one whole-note.

3) Third species counterpoint

Third species counterpoint is three or four notes against one note. For example, one voice will play a quarter-note and a second voice will play four sixteenth notes against the quarter-note; or one voice will play four quarter-notes against one whole-note.

4) Fourth species counterpoint

This is where counterpoint gets fun. It's when notes are offset against each other and it creates a dissonance, usually on the beat. It is possible to have dissonance on the first measure, as long as the dissonance is prepared and resolved. To create this dissonance in fourth species counterpoints, the notes are sustained; it helps produce this as well as a sense of syncopation.

5) Fifth species counterpoint

In a nutshell, fifth species counterpoint is all of the above examples composed into one form. It is the closet one can get to a "free" counterpoint.

A number of examples of counterpoint can be found by J.S. Bach

Here is an example:

"Little" Fugue (G minor)

In particular, this is a fugue, in which a short theme is presented in the beginning and is imitated by three other voices, and it appears throughout the piece.

It is pretty cool stuff, I love polyphony. =]

Hope this helps.

All images are taken from

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