SOUND PATTERNS

A Structural Examination of Tonality, Vocabulary, Texture,
Sonorities, and Time Organization in Western Art Music

by PHILLIP MAGNUSON

BASIC RULES FOR SPECIES COUNTERPOINT

Chapter 7. Species II in Two Voices

Chapter 6. Species I in Two Voices
.
Chapter 8. Species III in Two Voices
Chapter 9. Species IV in Two Voices
Chapter 10. Species V in Two Voices
Chapter 11. Species I in Three Voices

7.1 MELODIC PRINCIPLES FOR SPECIES II

  1. The counterpoint moves two half-notes for every whole-note of the cantus firmus as in the example above, creating a rhythmic structure of two beats, with a downbeat (strong) and an upbeat (weak).

  2. The counterpoint begins on beat 2 (following a half rest).

    This is how Species II melodies will look at the beginning.

  3. The last measure will be whole-notes in both voices.

    This is how Species II melodies will look at the end.

  4. Do not leap upward to beat 1 within an ascending line, unless prepared. Upward leaps to beat 2 are allowable.

    A prepared leap is one in which the upper note does not sound suddenly new.

    High notes create a tonic stress. Do not allow a tonic stress to coincide with a metric stress.

  5. Do not leap tritones, or outline A4ths, or place A4ths on successive strong beats.

    Just as with Species I, diaboli in musica are historically incorrect.

  6. Do not use motives or sequences (repeated melodic patterns).

    Notice the descending pattern in this incorrectly constructed melody.

  7. The leading tone at the clausula vera may occur on either beat. Do not leap into the leading tone with an interval larger than a third.

  8. In the Aeolian mode, it is possible for a line to approach the leading tone from a step below, which creates the interval of an A2. To avoid this, a second musica ficta must be added on the 6th scale degree.

  9. All other melodic principles are the same as for Species I.

    INTERLUDE 1

    Click on the letter of the line that uses Species II correctly.

    A

    B

    C


7.2 CONTRAPUNTAL PRINCIPLES FOR SPECIES II

  1. Beat 1 of every measure must be consonant.

  2. Beat 2 may be either consonant or dissonant. If dissonant, it must be a passing tone (stepwise motion in one direction between two notes a third apart).

    This is the proper context and labelling of passing tones.

    Note that dissonances are circled. A4's and d5's will also have a line drawn through them to make it clear that they are not perfect intervals.

  3. Unisons are allowable on beat 2, but be careful not to cross or overlap voices.

    Unisons bring the voices close together; they have to be used in the context of contrary motion.


    INTERLUDE 2

    Click on the letter of the counterpoint that uses Species II correctly.

    A

    B

    C


  4. Do not use parallel perfect consonances from beat 2 to beat 1, or from beat 1 to the next beat 1.

    Since there are two notes in each measure, there are more opportunities to create parallel perfect consonances.

  5. Perfect consonances are always allowable on beat 2 since the cantus firmus does not move (oblique motion).

  6. Do not use direct perfect consonances from beat 2 to beat 1.

    Direct perfect consonances can only happen when both voices are moving in the same direction.

  7. All other contrapuntal principles are the same as for Species I.

    INTERLUDE 3

    Click on the letter of the counterpoint that uses Species II correctly.

    A

    B

    C


    Learn more about species II counterpoint

7.3 EXAMPLE OF COUNTERPOINT IN SPECIES II

Note the F# used in measure 10; it is done to avoid the interval of an A2 to the G#. This is required in the Aeolian mode, and ONLY in the Aeolian mode.

7.4 HOW TO WRITE IN SPECIES II

The four big questions to ask yourself when writing species II counterpoint:

  1. Is this note good for the line? You need to have good knowledge of all the melodic principles to answer this.
  2. If it is a perfect consonance, how has it been approached?
  3. If it is a dissonance, how is it justified?
  4. Is the cadence a clausula vera?

There are some extra conditions that need to be examined, but they involve lesser questions. These include issues about

  1. Beginning the counterpoint
  2. Distance between voices
  3. Use of unisons

ASSIGNMENTS:

SYNTHESIS

Using an assigned cantus firmus, write a soprano counterpoint above, and a bass counterpoint below, in Species II.

Be careful to pay attention to all the principles of Species II, especially while writing the melodic line, and make sure that all dissonances are passing tones.

This must be written as two separate pieces, one with a treble clef and alto clef, and a second with alto clef and bass clef. Follow the exact format of the example above, including the labels for the counterpoint and the cantus firmus.

To prepare this writing assignment properly, use the notation guidelines appendix, located at Basic Principles of Music Notation, Semester I.

ANALYSIS

Find the errors in the following example. Put a number with a box around it near the mistake and briefly explain by the corresponding number below.


Cantus firmi

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

11.

12.


Links to chapters in this unit:
Chapter 6. Species I in Two Voices
Chapter 8. Species III in Two Voices
Chapter 9. Species IV in Two Voices
Chapter 10. Species V in Two Voices
Chapter 11. Species I in Three Voices

Link to previous unit: FUNDAMENTALS

Link to next unit: DIATONIC PROCEDURES I: Harmonic Dimensions


Copyright 2008-2009 by Phillip Magnuson.

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