Baroque Counterpoint

Prentice Hall
Peter Schubert / Christoph Neidhöfer  
Total pages
December 2005
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For third-year undergraduate courses in Tonal Counterpoint, Baroque Analysis courses, courses on the music of Bach and Handel, and graduate courses in Counterpoint and Baroque Music.

This informative text teaches writing and understanding Baroque counterpoint. Unique in approach, Baroque Counterpoint  uses extensive quotations and examples from contemporaneous treatises; the authors explain the principles underlying the compositional techniques of the period, introducing students to the widest range of composers of any of the books currently available. It emphasizes singing and improvisation as well as writing.


  • A foundation in harmony-Builds on four-part progression (as J.S. Bach did)-the only text on the market to do so.
    • Eases students' confusion by introducing harmony rather than two-part writing as a first concept.

  • Abundant exercises-Includes short, easy exercises.
    • Ensures students' success by focusing on small problems that lay the groundwork for them to compose original pieces from scratch.

  • Treatise evidence-Includes extensive quotations and examples from eighteenth- century writers.
    • Puts students in touch with the concerns of Baroque composers.

  • “Strict” vs. “free”-Illustrates the Baroque theorists' distinction that remains pedagogically useful today.
    • Strict style gives students a solid foundation with a clear harmonic framework within which they can more easily compose complex music free style, with accented dissonance and chromaticism, is inroduced later.

  • Informative appendices-Include Partimento Fugue, List of Fugue Subject Types from WTC, and Glossary.
    • Provide easy reference and valuable supplements.

Table of Contents


1. Introduction.

What is this Book? Who Can Use this Book?. Step by Step. Learning by Modeling. Mainstream Composers. Why Vocal Music? Keeping a Commonplace Book. Copying and Memorizing Music. Different Road Maps through the Book.

2. Melody or Harmony?

Canon: The Melody as Surface of the Progression. Chord Factors. Composing a Canon. Free Imitation. Fugue and Other Imitative Genres. Puzzle Canon. Unpacking the Box.

3. Harmonizing a Subject in Simple Counterpoint.

Simple Counterpoint or Chorale Style. Harmonic Rhythm, or “Steps.” Fundamental Bass or Root Progression. Chord Factors. The Principal Triads. Rules for Using Only Principal Triads in Simple Counterpoint. Inverted Chords. Other Triads and Substitute Chords. Rules for Exercises in Harmonizing Given Subjects Using All Available Triads, Inverted Chords. Tips for Writing Good Bass Lines.

4. Melodic Embellishment in Strict Style.

Strict Style. Dance Steps and Dissonance. Dance Rhythms. Rules for Strict Style. Types of Embellishment. Compound Melody. Reduction.

5. Variation Techniques.

Chaconne, Passacaglia, Ground, Variation. Motives. Inventory of Typical Motives. Motive as Embellishment. Harmonizing Motives. Dissonance in More than Two Parts. Melodic Inversion. Chorale Preludes. Motivic Variation. Chorale Cantus Firmus in Longer Note Values. Retrograde and Retrograde Inversion. Other Motives.

6. Imitation at the Unison or Octave Above a Free Bass.

A) Trio Sonata Openings. Tips for Good Three-Part Writing. Inverted Chords and Substitute Chords. Total Reharmonization. B) Openings of Keyboard Dances and Inventions.

7. Imitation at the Fifth.

Why Imitate at the Fifth? Imitation at the Fifth in Trio Sonatas. The Splice. Different Types of Splice: The Modulation. Imitating at the Fifth in the Minor Mode. Note on Dorian and Mixolydian Key Signatures.

8. Closing the Circle.

Back to the Tonic. The D/T Splice. Modulation and Remodulation. Splice Plus Cadential. Chord Factors in Splice Pairs, The Third Thematic Entry. The Retransition. Remodulation and Retransition in Minor Keys. Non-Modulating Themes.

9. Exposition with Real Answer.

Fugue vs. Trio Sonata. The Subject as Bass. The SATB Exposition. The BTAS Exposition. Vocal Ranges. The Countersubject. The Countersubject and Invertible Counterpoint at the Octave. The Exposition with Other Orders of Entry. Two Subjects or Answers in a Row. The Subject & Answer in Non-Adjacent Voices.

10. Tonal Answer.

Real Answer v. Tonal Answer. Moving the Splice. Tonic Scale and Dominant Scale. Reciprocity and Types of Subject. Why Tonal Answer? Other Alterations and Scale Degrees. Analyzing Melodies. Writing Tonal Answers. Countersubject and Counteranswer. Tonal Answer and Harmonic Progression.

11. Thematic Presentations.

Summary of Chapters 5-10. The Exposition. Simple Fugues. Some Aspects of Musical Variety. The “Unneccessary” Transition. Overlapping witht the Cadence. Multiple Fugues. The First Type of Double Fugue. A Lesson from Mattheson. The Second Type of Double Fugue. The Third Type of Double Fugue. Invertibility in Double Fugues. Triple and Quadruple Fugues. Permutation Fugue. Invertibility in Triple and Quadruple Fugues. Unpacking Harmonic “Boxes” Part II.

12. Episodes.

Part I: Types of Sequence. One-Chord Models. Two-Chord Models. Multi-Chord Models. Harmonic Smudge. Realizing Sequentially. Canons in Sequences. Part II: Structural Functions of Sequence. Sequences in Themes. Sequences in Episodes. Deriving Motives from the Subject & Countersubject. Using Sequences to Modulate. Ways to Harmoinze the Suspension Chain.

13. Laying Out a Whole Piece.

Cadences. Authentic Cadences. Formal Cadences. Embellishing the Arrival. Avoided Cadences. Mattheson on Cadences in Fugue. Final Plagal Cadences. Subordinance Cadences. Placement of Formal Cadences. Using Avoided Cadences to Modulate. Joining Up Sections. Modulating by Means of Successive Entries. Fragmentary Entries. A Case Study.


14. Advanced Embellishment - Free Style.

Accented Passing Tones. Sense of Direction. Suspensions that Resolve Upwards. Leap to and from Dissonances. Expanding a Harmony. Transferred Resolutions. Layers of Dissonance. The Benefits of Free Style.

15. Chromaticism and Sequences.

Ascending and Descending Chromaticism. The Diminished Seventh Chord. Four Types of Descending Chromaticism. Other Substitutes. Isolated Applied Dominants. Applied Dominants in Sequences. Applied Dominants in Compound Melody. More Harmonic Smudges. Chromatic Scales in Fugue Subjects. Chromaticism and Tonal Answer. A Famous Difficult Example.

16. Multiple Counterpoint.

Basic Principles of Invertible Counterpoint. Why Use Invertible Counterpoint?. Invertible Counterpoint at the Tenth. Parallel Tenths. IC10 and Harmony. IC12. IC12 and Harmony. A Bach Story. Double Counterpoint in Three Parts. Invertible Counterpoint at the Octave and Tenth. Invertible Couterpoint at the Tenth and Twelfth. Double Counterpoint in Four Parts: IC8, 10, and 12. Triple and Quadruple Counterpoint. Composing Boxes of Artful Devices First and Unpacking the Boxes. Uninverted Double Counterpoint.

17. Writing an Original Subject.

Writing an Original Subject. Types of Subject. Harmonic Rhythm. Borrowing and Assembly. Melody. Rhythm. Length of Subject. Head and Tail-Beginning, Middle, and End. Overall Shape. Unpacking the Box to Make a Subject. Real or Tonal Answer?. Multiple Splices. Hybrid Themes. Starting on Unusual Scale Degrees. Unusual Scale Degrees after the Splice. Unusual Subjects.

18. Stretto.

Stretto. Stretto and Tonal Answer. Stretto and Hybrid. Varying Stretto. Combinations by Invertible.Counterpoint. Using Reduction to Examine a Subject for Stretto Possibilities. Harmony and Stretto. Time-Shifting the Countermelody. Stretto Fugue.

19.Other Techniques.

Augumentation/diminution. Melodic Inversion. Mirror Inversion. Simultaneous Inversion. Pedal. Combined Techniques. Advanced Formal Speculation.

20. Overall Design and Layout of a Fugue.

Key. Contrapuntal Intensity. Register and Texture. Marpurg on Fugal Form. Fugue as Jewelry. Borrowed Form. JKF Fischer Fuga 3 in D Minor. JKF Fischer Fuga 10 in F Major. Binary Form. Ritornello Form in Fugue. Competing Analyses of the C Minor Fugue from WTC1. Varying the Presentation of the Theme(s). Melodic Inversion. Varying the Theme/Countermelody Pair. Introducing Episodes for Contrast. Means of Varying Intensity.

Appendix I: Partimento Fugues.
Appendix II: List of Fugue Subject Types from The Well-Tempered Clavier.
Glossary and Index.