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 9. Species IV in Two Voices

Chapter 6. Species I in Two Voices
Chapter 7. Species II in Two Voices
Chapter 8. Species III in Two Voices
.
Chapter 10. Species V in Two Voices
Chapter 11. Species I in Three Voices

9.1 MELODIC PRINCIPLES FOR SPECIES IV

  1. The counterpoint moves in half-notes tied across the bar lines, as in the example above, creating a rhythmic structure of syncopations. The metric stress is found in the cantus firmus while the counterpoint provides an agogic stress on beat two.

  2. The counterpoint begins with a half-rest.

  3. The counterpoint ends with a clausula vera that resembles Species II, using a single half-note and a whole-note.

  4. All other melodic principles from previous species apply.

9.2 CONTRAPUNTAL PRINCIPLES FOR SPECIES IV

  1. The first of the two tied half notes (beat 2) must always be consonant.

  2. The second of the two tied notes (beat 1) may be either consonant or dissonant. If dissonant, it must be justifiable as a SUSPENSION. Suspensions are constructed with three parts:
    1. a preparation, which occurs on beat 2 and must be consonant,
    2. a suspension, which occurs on the following beat 1, is the same pitch as the preparation, and may be dissonant,
    3. and a resolution, which occurs on the following beat 2, and which moves down by step to a consonance.
    There are only three types of suspensions that may be used in two-voice writing:
    1. Above a cantus firmus: 7-6 or 4-3 (11-10)

    2. Below a cantus firmus: 2-3 (9-10)

    Suspensions are labeled by the intervals formed written between the two lines (with a hyphen between them). Suspensions frequently occur in chains, but never more than three of the same type in a row.

  3. On occasion, continuous Species IV is not possible. If this happens, Species IV may be broken and replaced with Species II, but for no more than one measure (two half notes) and only once per exercise. The only reasons for breaking species are:

    1. To stop a series of more than three identical suspensions

    2. To prevent a melodic tritone (diabolus in musica)

    3. To conform to restrictions imposed by the cantus firmus

    When Species IV is broken, all half-notes must follow the rules for Species II.

  4. Unisons are allowable on either beat.

  5. Perfect consonances may occur on successive beats 1 or on successive beats 2, but never more than two of the same type in a row.

  6. All other contrapuntal principles from previous species apply.

    INTERLUDE 1

    Which counterpoint below is done incorrectly?

    A

    B

    C



    INTERLUDE 2

    Which counterpoint below has more than three of the same type of suspension in succession?

    A

    B

    C



    INTERLUDE 3

    Which counterpoint below has too many perfect consonances in a row?

    A

    B

    C


9.3 EXAMPLE OF COUNTERPOINT IN SPECIES IV

Note that the ties are on the opposite side from the stems, and that the suspensions are labelled with a hyphen between the numbers (7-6).

9.4 HOW TO WRITE IN SPECIES IV

The four big questions to ask yourself when writing species IV 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
  4. Breaking species

ASSIGNMENTS:

SYNTHESIS

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

Be careful to pay attention to all the principles of Species IV, especially while writing the melodic line, and make sure that each suspension contains a preparation, the suspended note, and a resolution down by step.

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 7. Species II in Two Voices
Chapter 8. Species III 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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