On Double Counterpoint

Double counterpoint is a class of composition, of which the skill consists in so combining the parts as that they shall, without inconvenience, be transposed from the higher to the lower part, if they be placed above the theme, and from the lower to the higher part, if they be placed below it; while the theme itself undergoes no change in its melody, whether it occur in one of the outer parts, or in one of the middle parts.

These inversions may be made in seven ways; consequently, there are seven kinds of double counterpoint:

  1. in the ninth (or second)
  2. in the tenth (or third)
  3. in the eleventh (or fourth)
  4. in the twelfth (or fifth)
  5. in the thirteenth (or sixth)
  6. in the fourteenth (or seventh)
  7. and in the fifteenth (or octave).

Those which are the most-frequently employed are those in the tenth (or third), in the twelfth (or fifth), and in the fifteenth (or octave).

Before speaking of each of these seven kinds separately, it is necessary to observe in general: Firstly, that for a double counterpoint, the parts must be distinguished from one another, as much as possible, by the value of the notes; that is to say, if the theme be composed of semibreves 1) or minims 2), crotchets 3) and quavers 4) must be opposed to it – as many, and in the same manner, as with regard to florid counterpoint. Secondly, that part which forms the counterpoint should commence after the theme. Thirdly, that the parts must not, at haphazard, be made to cross, because then the intervals would not change in the transposition or inversion of the counterpoint from the higher to the lower, or from the lower to the higher. Fourthly, that in all double counterpoints, except that of the octave, it is not only permitted, but it is even needful to alter the intervals by inversion, particularly when the modulations require this.

whole notes
half notes
quarter notes
eighth notes
  • cherubini_counterpoint_and_fugue/on_double_counterpoint/first_section.txt
  • Last modified: 2018/08/10 15:50
  • by brian