Posted in Project 3: Introduction to Species Counterpoint

Exercise 1.3

This exercise is about writing counterpoint in Fux’s second species to the given cantus firmus in the lower voice, while following the rules and advices listed in the course book.

Here is my solution with the intervals marked, and below it is the analysis comparing to the criteria of second species, given on page 24:

exercise 1.3

As the guidelines advise, I started the counterpoint with a rest, in order to establish the pulsation of two minims (half notes) against one semibreve (whole note), which the second species is based on. The interval opening and ending the solution is the octave, with the strong beats containing the preferred sonorities – the 3rds and 6ths, from the 2nd up to the penultimate bar, avoiding the consecutive octaves and 5ths. As permitted, the weak beats either contain carefully controlled dissonances that move step-wise, passing from one consonance to the next, or the jumps to the consonances. Personally, I feel my melody isn’t as flowy as the sample solutions I’ve analyzed, however, I still feel it is quite calm. There are only two jumps, although slightly larger (4ths – C-F and G-D), while the rest is stepwise motion that fills in the missing notes of the gap, and the melody is still quite wave-like. However, there is one thing that I really don’t like – the resolution of the 7th in bar 4. I was taught that when there is a dissonance, it should be resolved not only by the step-wise motion in that voice-part, but also the step-wise motion in the other voice. In this case, the cantus firmus jumps from G to Bb. Technically, I do end up in a consonant interval, and there is nothing like this mentioned on page 24, but I did learn this in my previous studies, which is why I am not entirely happy with my example. In the lack of better solution though, I decided this was the best option.

Generally, I quite enjoyed the exercise. As I mentioned, I did study Fux before, but this was still a great refresher. What I found interesting is that the rule which I was taught in my previous studies, the one I mentioned above about dissonance, doesn’t appear in the bullet points. This makes me wonder if it was just my previous teacher’s preference, or an actual rule from Fux. I guess this is one of the reasons it’s good to return to the fields you think you already know – you can never conquer all the rules and there are always places to further develop. Now, off to the next species.

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