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Music 1649A/B Lecture Notes - Gioseffo Zarlino, Musical Tuning, Gradus Ad Parnassum

Course Code
Music 1649A/B
Kevin Mooney

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Musicians once composed with only a few dots or points, hence counterpoint
They placed one point against another how we place a onte against anoter
Two kinds of counterpoint: simple and diminished
o Simple solely of consonances and equal note values place against
one another
o Diminished has dissonances as well as consonances
Gioseffo Zarlino (1517-1590)
o Very famous composer, and music theorist of the renaissance
o Made large contributions to counterpoint and musical tuning
o Recognized the primacy of triad over interval as a means of harmonic
Renaissance era is the first art and practice of counterpoint
The music of Palestrina (16 century) is thought of as the crowning glory of
counterpoint practice
o Palestrina was also known as the prince of music
o Palestrina saved music from the church banishing it by creating Missa
Papae Marcelli, which demonstrated that the text of music can be
made without being obscure.
o Saved music from the more conservative element of the counter
o You can still have counterpoint in the context of traditional catholic
o Savior and prince of music
Missa Papae Marcelli
o Very angelic/serene
o Controlled type of music very deliberate
o Incredibly dynamic creates interest through dynamics
o Strong aspect of control too controlled would be boring so he uses
contrast through low and high registers
o Exploits the possibilities of the choir
o A vocal style of composition the voice is very fluent in its lines. Step
wise style of writing, fluent melodically.
If he uses a large interval he will reserve that for an important
Step wise melodic motion
Johann Joseph Fux (1660-1741)
o He is in interest to us because he really embodies Palestrinas style
o Tries to distill that style into a set of rules that captures the essence of
o Contemporary of Bach
o Doesn’t write music about his time like Palestrina did
o Wants to formulate some way of teaching counterpoint to his
Counterpoint was the foundation of the training in the
composers who interest us.
o Publishes Gradus ad Parnassum in 1725
Book on the study of counterpoint
Treatus that many of the most great composers studied from
Heidus, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms etc etc
Composers wanted to learn how to write in tis controlled style
of writing
Species Counterpoint:
“I began, therefore, many years ago, to work out a method similar to that by which
children learn first letters, then syllables, then combinations of syllables, and finally
how to read and write.”
The five steps to Parnassus:
1. First Species: One against One
2. Second Species: Two against One
3. Third Species: Four against one
4. Fourth Species: Two against one (suspensions)
5. Fifth Sepcies: Florid Coutnerpoint
First Species Counterpoint:
Simplest of all species
Dealing with one note sounding against another note
Isn’t rhythmic at all, think of it as whole notes moving in tandem
Second Species Counterpoint
One note sounding against two notes
Little more involved rhythmically
Third Species Counterpoint
Four notes sounding against one note
Every time you allow for rhythmic development it introduces new problems
Slowly leading a student into the discipline of counterpoint
Palestrina style:
Very conservative/controlled/reserved style (Stile antico..)
Uses a cantus firmus (preexisting melody)
Emphasis is on the melodic dimension (modal variety)
Highly controlled use of dissonance
Vocal style of composition (mostly stepwise motion)
o Emphasis is on the melodic dimension
The Modes:
1. Ionian
Major mode
Semi tone scale degree 3-4 and 7-8
2. Dorian
3. Phrygian
4. Lydian
5. Mixolydian
6. Aeolian
Minor mode
Semi-tone between scale 2-3 and 5-6
7. Locrian
Tended not to be used very often
The Rules:
Two basic types of intervals; perfect and imperfect
1. Perfect to Perfect
Contrary or Oblique
2. Perfect to Imperfect
Direct, contrary, or oblique
3. Imperfect to Perfect
Contrary or oblique
4. Imperfect to Imperfect
Direct, contrary or oblique
Avoid direct motion into a perfect consonance
First Species Rules:
Use perfect consonances at beginning and end (but not P4)
Don’t begin with P5 when counterpoint is below c.f
Use M6/m3 in penultimate measure
Beware of hidden fifths
Avoid melodic tritons
Avoid large uncompensated melodic leaps
Avoid skipping onto the P8 orP1 (unintentional downbeats)
Second Species:
Downbeats are consonant; upbeats are consonant or dissonant
The counterpoint can begin on or off the beat; whole note against whole note
in the last measure
If the cantus firmus is the lower part, the last three intervals are P5-M6-P8; if
it is the upper part, the last three intervals are P5-m3-P1
Passing tones are permitted on weak beats; neighbor tones are not permitted
Unisons may occur on weak beats
Treat P5s and P8s on successive downbeats carefully
Larger melodic leaps (m6, P8) can be used if the parts get too close