This classic introductory text focuses on the polyphonic vocal style perfected by Palestrina. Unlike many other texts, it maintains a careful balance between. Counterpoint: the polyphonic vocal style of the sixteenth century / by Knud Jeppeson [sic] ; translated [from the Danish] with an introduction by Glen Haydon . COUNTERPOINT. The Polyphonic Vocal Style of the Sixteenth Century. Knud Jeppesen. Jeppesen. This clau intrusion titles i ilir poliiburi Yul style titted by.

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The essential difference between these two stages of development within the same movement lay, therefore, rather in content than in form.

Counterpoint: The Polyphonic Vocal Style of the Sixteenth Century

He reports here the following concerning two of the greatest composers of the century, namely Josquin des Prez and Hcinrich Isaac: The sixteenth century loves clearness, directness, nat- uralness. For each particular kind of writing, two- three- and four-part, he sets up the same five exercises or species. That is something he could not do at that time for obvious reasons. Of great psychological significance is the expression which Guilelmus uses in expounding the use of the syncope dissonances, in that he speaks of the “sweetness” which they lend to the succeeding consonance.

In harmony chords are presupposed: The manuscript also states a rule that, so far as possible, one or two steps of a second downward should follow an ascending skip of a fourth, fifth, or octave. J J J In short, his power of invention is almost inexhaustible. Scripforum de musica medii aevi.

The Style of Palestrina and the Dissonance. But it is no ordi- nary textbook, because it maintains an unusually happy balance between theoretical and practical problems, between historical and systematic methodology. Although we have enumerated only twelve consonances both perfect and im- perfect nothing prevents us, according to the custom and practice of recent times, from using dissonances, as for example the second, which adds sweetness to the low third; or the seventh, which lends sweetness to the sixth; the fourth, which does likewise to the upper third; and this last again, which, according to recent experience, lends sweetness to the fifth.

If, on the other hand, a more scientific explana- tion of the causes of musical effects and laws is desired, then one view- point should not be isolated from the other. One cannot help noticing this fault in a large part of the con- trapuntal literature based upon Tinctoris which uncritically takes over his teaching.

Counterpoint: the polyphonic vocal style of the sixteenth century;

In such a case, however, the composition must be for several voices and the sixth or its octave above the bass ckunterpoint not be used. At any rate it is not based upon the practice of the Palestrina style. Even so, it is certain that Isaac, according to the letter, much more nearly met the demands which people of the sixteenth century made of a genius. Over a cantus firmus in notes of equal length, one should not allow two cadences on the same tone to follow one another too closely.


Special exercises involving special difficulties are devised which are not taken from actual music, but which are de- signed to voal the goal more quickly. In he published a collection of “chromatic” madrigals, as he called them, and in the theoretical work just mentioned he demonstrated, according to the ancient models, not only the diatonic but also the styke and en- harmonic tonal systems.

The insistent de- mand for a voice leading that is stepwise and even, as far as possible, was doubtless based much more on a psychological than on any practical reason and may very well have been connected partly with the strong urge toward the simple and natural, which is characteristic sjxteenth this century, and partly with an unconscious tendency to strengthen and fortify the polyphonic element as against the chordal, which is noticeably gaining in influence during the century.

The second movement was couhterpoint secular music and that church music which was more strongly influenced by the madrigal, with its clearly emphasized expressive tendencies.

The counterpoint must continue in good melodic form even if the tenor makes large skips. Especially in Palestrina’s favor in this connection seems to be the very strict economy of his style.

The follow- ing editions are also recommended: This new point of view marks the sharp distinction between the rhe and the newer music; the attitude toward the text is decisive in the evolution.

His critique of every art other than Bach’s was harshly derogatory, yet he did not seem to have a truly critical judgment himself. One no longer writes down without reservation or critique the rules which countefpoint observes or believes he observes in practice, but he begins to reason about them and to stylize them if he considers this desirable; he selects and rejects.

In Denmark, for example, at the beginning of the past century, pronunciations were common that varied more widely from the older ones than do those of current Danish speech — a fact that might suggest a somewhat peculiar development curve. State- ments of various medieval English theorists, it seems, as well as pf contemporary musical works from the British Isles, must be understood in this sense.

In the interim an art has developed which has definitely, almost exclu- sively, a harmonic basis. And this for the reason that everything comes out much more clearly as soon as it is placed in polyhponic with its opposite.


Counterpoint: the polyphonic vocal style of the sixteenth century; ( edition) | Open Library

Fux introduces here no par- ticularly detailed rules but he does observe that two isolated quarters may occur in the place of an accented half note only under certain restrictions. The author of this book, published in Vienna in by royal subsidy, was the highly respected composer, Johann Joseph Fux. He says nothing to the effect that cfntury is referring to the syncope dissonance, the suspension; but there can be no doubt “‘ Coussemaker, ScriptorumVol.

He shows, for example, how one can progress from a unison to a third, fifth, sixth, or octave, and how one proceeds from a third to another consonant interval. When, for example, poems mentioned an ascent or descent, the composer conscientiously attempted in the focal the corresponding movements in the scale.

Counterpoin this edition, the distinguished scholar Alfred Mann has contributed a new foreword to Jeppesen’s classic study. But half-note dissonances that move by skip are not allowed at all.

The details that lend interest or suspense grow out of the whole. Vicentino emphasizes, for example, that in the composition of madrigals, among other things, little depends upon the pedantic maintenance of the mode and the like; most important is to see that life and breath be given the text by the tones and that the music express the passions and feelings, bitter as well as mild, cheerful as well as melancholy.

The will, how- ever, was present and persisted until finally, after gaining sufficient mastery over the musical means of expression, it attained its goal: He begins by exploring the beginnings of contrapuntal theory from the ninth to the fourteenth centuries. For, in spite of all apparent pedantry, they are based upon an idea that is sound and excellent.

Only when one has fully mastered these basic musical phenomena is the rhythm freed. Palestrina’s comments on them are, however, of a somewhat general character and are obviously in agreement with Zarlino’s doctrines.

Hence it was not at all remarkable that the theorists of the Middle Ages should accept this technique which thus has its deeper basis in the fact that music displays a certain gravitating tend- ency and inertia in its evolution and adheres to its first principles with remarkable tenacity.