Counterpoint (Schenker)

Counterpoint (Schenker)

Counterpoint (Schenker)

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Counterpoint (Kontrapunkt in the original German) is the second volume of Heinrich Schenker's New Musical Theories and Fantasies (the first is Harmony and the third is Free Composition). It is divided into two "Books", the first published in 1910, and the second in 1922.

The subject matter of the work is species counterpoint, also referred to as "strict counterpoint". Book I is concerned with the construction of the cantus firmus and the rules of counterpoint in two voices; Book II treats the cases of three- and four-voice counterpoint. Schenker thus follows the model of Fux in presenting all of the species in turn before adding additional voices.

The Principles

The principles of strict counterpoint constitute one of the fundamental components of Schenker's musical theory (see Schenkerian analysis). For Schenker, the study of counterpoint is the study of voice leading; in particular, contrapuntal theory is separate from and independent of harmonic theory, which is concerned with scale-steps (see Harmony). In "free composition" (Schenker's term for actual music, as opposed to theoretical exercises), both of these two kinds of phenomena interact, together with the principle of repetition. Schenker thus views the rules of strict counterpoint as basic structures underlying the complex voice-leading patterns of free composition, and not necessarily as models to be literally imitated on the actual musical surface. Throughout Counterpoint, Schenker...
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