...there be many things which at the first sight seem easy which in practice are found harder than one would think. But thus much I will show you, that he who hath this kind of descanting perfectly may, with small trouble, quickly become a good musician. Thomas Morley, A Plaine and Easie Introduction... (1597), 155.



The melodies and rhythms of strict, or "species" counterpoint, offer a serene and lucid source of material to work with in the pursuit of understanding basic musical concepts.



As you work in a simple two-voice texture with melodies reminiscent of those of the Renaissance, you will explore the nature of mode and key, of consonance and dissonance, balance, tension and climax, the relationship between rhythm and line, step and skip, drama and resolution.



Strict, or "species" counterpoint, provides a clear framework for the study of voice leading: the relationship between two or more voices. In strict counterpoint, we move from the simplest rhythmic relationship of note-against-note in the first species to the florid style of the fifth and final species, and through this orderly and systematic progression we develop an intimate knowledge of the processes by which voices or lines interact in the most natural, purposeful, and satisfying way, complementing and contrasting with one another.




Introduction 2

Copyright © 2001 Irene Girton