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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Of the following idioms, Artusi says it is best for the highest tone of the first, as well as the lowest 12 El Melopeop. When, for example, poems mentioned an ascent or descent, the polyohonic conscientiously attempted in the music the corresponding movements in the scale.

It sixteenyh asserted that such a form of musical composition never existed at all, and what is more, from a viewpoint characteristic of the nineteenth century, one even spoke of its “moral impossibility.

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 of 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.

While the position of the ars antiqua with respect to the matter of polyphlnic combinations was rather indifferent and negative, and while about the only requirement was the demand for consonances on accented places for the sake of transparencythis attitude seems from now on to take on a more posi- tive form.

Full text of “Counterpoint: the polyphonic vocal style of the sixteenth century;”

Today this custom is no longer common because the half note as a dissonance is too prominent, and not only it but the quarter note as well is too sharp a dissonance if it is not sixteenty in a proper manner; we therefore are accus- tomed to use only quarters and eighths as dissonances. The unity in baroque paint- ing has pre-existence; it is the point of departure and the foundation of the whole. The feeling for tonal combina- tions became more refined, a sharper distinction was made between vocal and instrumental writing, and shorter note values, more energetic move- ments, and stronger rhythmic accents were introduced.

If we turn, for example, to Palestrina, the prince and father of music, though by no means an especially old composer, sitxeenth find only a slight difference between the style of his motets sacred compositions and that of his secular madrigals.


Imitation a principle in accordance with which the voices imitate each other by introducing the same theme in one voice after the other was employed less fruitfully and logically at the end of the fifteenth century, but began to play a principal role in musical construction dur- ing the sixteenth century. It is by no means immaterial whether we say, as in con- trapuntal teaching, “First the lines and then, in spite of them, the best possible harmonies” ; or, as in the teaching of harmony, “First the chords and afterwards, so far as possible, good voice leading.

The will, how- ever, was present and persisted until finally, after gaining sufficient mastery over the musical means of expression, it attained its goal: Throughout, the text is generously supplied with musical examples exercises, solutions, and illustrations, including many by the great composers.

Fux here teaches the same principle taught in earlier times, that dissonances may not be used in this species at all. We must write fresh, lifelike harmonic progressions and yet preserve a natural, convincing voice leading. Hence a textbook based upon sound scholarly research in the music of a great period in the history of the art brings welcome relief to the serious but perplexed student and teacher of counterpoint.

Counterpoint: The Polyphonic Vocal Style of the Sixteenth Century

Voczl example, in the twelfth- and thirteenth-century art of the motet the so-called ars antiquathe “Franconian” law, setting forth a prohibition against dissonances upon accented portions of the measure, was formulated by the theorists some time before it was carried out in actual practice.

Remarkably enough, however, Hucbald himself does not even observe this rule logically. By and large, however, there is no essential difference between this source and the other more official, theoretical works of the sixteenth century. While the treatment of the text in the fifteenth century was charac- terized for the most part by a striking indifference, and while the use of effective, unequivocal tone painting as a means of expression can be found only in very rare cases in European music beforethe sixteenth century brought a decisive change in this situation.

Ordinarily the half note is the longest value which may form a dissonance, and yet this is admissible only on the weak beat hence on the second and fourth half notes in a measureand there it is permissible only in conjunct motion.

Crystallization of Principles 8 The Sixteenth Century: Empty fifths and octaves at least are very much suppressed ciunterpoint are not chosen for the sake of the sound; but when they do occur, they are always motivated by the move- ments of the melody, by voice leading, imitation, or the like.

Our advantages must be utilized. Tinctoris further considers it bad to return after a dissonance to the preceding consonance. For the rest, the material is put together somewhat helter-skelter and includes a colorful mixture of everything imaginable — circle-canons, ecclesiastical modes, interval progressions, rules of notation, mensural theory, and so on.


Berardi Doubtless the reason the theorists clearly comprehend the trend of this whole development so quickly is that the time was ripe for it. The opera was created — a dramatic form which in the beginning used a kind of music as inadequate to express what was desired as the madrigal music of the sixteenth century.

Thus, the written language, which, in comparison to ordinary spoken language, is always rather unchanging and conservative, exercised an influence upon the latter, and caused it to revert to earlier pronunciations. This is an advantage that can hardly be overestimated, especially in a period quite as prodigal with notes as ours.

One of the most important rules in the evolution of polyphonic music is thus comprehended by Franco and formulated for musical theory. Best known is the hypothesis of Hugo Riemann, which concludes from the assumption that most of the music of the fifteenth century was intended for instruments, that the evolution took place when people gradually went over to vocal performance of compositions, and various so-called “instrumentalisms” idioms which Riemann conceives as having been designed especially for instruments proved impractical because they were not suited to the nature of the human voice; and that the greater importance the singing voice attained in the process of evolu- tion, the more the instrumental idioms were suppressed until they finally disappeared entirely.

These, however, are only exceptions. He then classifies the consonances in different ways, among others into perfect and imperfect consonances.

He turned directly to the musical works. As has been said, composers were very fond of using this device. Whoever wants to learn must first of all know what he wants to learn ; but he must also realize that he cannot learn everything from any single source.

Product Description Product Details This classic introductory text focuses on the polyphonic vocal style perfected by Palestrina.

In the Palestrina style itself, as is well known, the rule held that only perfect, major, and centry intervals could be used in melodies, and that all these intervals up to the fifth could be used without restriction in both direc- tions.

That is something he could not do at that time for obvious reasons. As has already been said, stule point of departure is of very real practical significance.