• Brian Jones
    10
    I’m about to (again) begin working through Fux’s legendary introduction to counterpoint, Gradus ad Parnassus, which, as you may know, was required study for virtually every composer, from Bach, through Mozart and Beethoven, to Schoenberg, who (typically) revered it by denouncing it, in his own Preliminary Exercises in Counterpoint (for the 20th century and beyond).
    This is primarily a philosophical, not musical exercise.
    All that’s required is basic intelligence (ideally, but not critically, ‘mathematical’ intelligence), even more basic understanding of musical notation (not theory; maybe an hour’s work if you’re completely unfamiliar), discipline, and—if you’re lazy like me—the free composing app, MuseScore (https://musescore.org/en/download).
    As counterpoint is one of the most fundamental and influential concepts in Western history, I don’t think its study should need much defense (it would be one of the key ‘values’ I’d teach to the children in my class—as per Dexter’s thread), but I should stress, for those who might be interested but worried, that the ‘steps’ are surprisingly undemanding and, I think, uniquely fascinating. It’s basically just a matter of applying a few simple, essentially mechanical rules to the harmonization of brief Gregorian-style melodies, and then (at least in my case) wondering at the beauty of it all and reflecting on the profound implications of such simple elements and relations.
    The great benefit of 'stepping' as a group (besides the discussion) lies in having someone to correct one's inevitable errors (and, if lucky, ugliness)--in heuristic counterpoint!
  • Terrapin Station
    13.8k
    I don’t think its study should need much defense (it would be one of the key ‘values’ I’d teach to the children in my class—as per Dexter’s thread),Brian Jones

    I think it's useful to understand the basic concept for music appreciation purposes (though surprisingly, a lot of music students don't even understand the gist of it and tend to see it as a set of rules that have to be followed (for their own sake)), though I wouldn't require anyone to go through a counterpoint text (Not that I'm at all trying to discourage you from doing so.).

    For music appreciation purposes, it's better to learn a broad range of basic theory (which is also easier if one accompanies that by picking up some basic skills on an instrument--keyboard is probably best, as that's also easiest for understanding how melody and harmony, including counterpoint, work, since it's the easiest instrument to play multiple independent voices on).
  • Brian Jones
    10
    I wouldn't require anyone to go through a counterpoint text
    Yea, brother. But this Fux is no ordinary text (for me); not like the (Fux-corrective) Jeppesen text (Counterpoint) that I work with alongside Fux's. It's more like a child's primer, with the most basic semantics and syntax of music in easy, step-wise development. One seems almost lifted up the steps, by some muse or other, instead of having to trudge up them yourself, 'text-wise'.
    My experience anyway.
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