Counterpoint (Bridge): Definitions

A short diatonic passage, generally of semi-breves (whole notes), used as a subject for contrapuntal treatment. (See Introductory Observations.)

Although, following the usual custom, the whole note has been chosen as the notation for the canti firmi in all the examples illustrating this work, it is of course open to the student to use a note of any length. The notes employed in the second and third species of counterpoint (usually minims 1) and crotchets 2)) will be regulated by the character of the note employed in the cantus firmus, being respectively two and four notes to one. The notation of the fourth species is similar to the second, but syncopated.

Notes were formerly termed points. Adding a counterpoint signifies the setting one point or note against another. Counterpoint is of two kinds: simple and double. The latter of these terms, in its ordinary acceptation, comprises convertible counterpoints in three, four, or more parts {i.e. triple, quadruple, etc.). Simple counterpoint 3) includes five species or orders, i.e. five methods of adding a counterpoint to a cantus firmus. The term “florid counterpoint” is generally applied to the fifth species.

Concords 4) are the octave (or unison) and perfect fifth (termed perfect concords), and the major and minor sixth and third (termed imperfect concords). All other intervals in counterpoint are discords 5), including the perfect fourth when it exists between the lowest and one of the upper parts.

half notes
quarter notes
For double counterpoint see Novello's Music Primer, “Double Counterpoint and Canon” by the same author.
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  • Last modified: 2017/07/18 12:56
  • by brian