A Treatise on Counterpoint and Fugue

In commencing this treatise, I suppose the pupil to be already acquainted with the theory of chords, and consequently, of harmony. I cause him, therefore, at once to enter upon the study of strict counterpoint; not that which accorded with the system of tones and modes observed by ancient composers, but modern strict counterpoint, that is to say, according to the present tonal system, which will imperceptibly lead the pupil to familiarize himself with the art of writing fugue – the true foundation of composing. It is needful that the pupil should be taught to observe strict rules, in order that when eventually composing in a free style, he should know how and why his genius – provided he have any – has caused him frequently to liberate himself from the rigour of first rules. By subjecting himself, at the outset, to the severity of these rules, he will subsequently know how to avoid with prudence the abuse of license; and by this means also, he will be able to form himself in the style which befits the fugal art, a style the most difficult to acquire.

I would induce the pupil who aims at becoming a composer, to read, and even to copy out, with attention, and with reflection, as much as he can of the works of the classical composers particularly, and occasionally those of inferior composers, with the view of learning from the former what mode his is to pursue for composing well, and from the latter, in what way he may avoid the contrary. By such a proceeding, frequently repeated, the pupil, in learning to exercise his ear through his sight, will gradually form his style, his feeling, and his taste.

The young composer, who shall carefully follow the instructions contained in this treatise, once having mastered those upon fugue, will have no more need of lessons, but will be able to write with purity in all styles, and will with ease, while studying the form of different kinds of composition, acquire the power of expressing clearly his own ideas, so as to produce the effect he desires.

  • cherubini_counterpoint_and_fugue/introduction.txt
  • Last modified: 2018/06/13 09:17
  • by brian