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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Further, one should not delay the entrance of the theme in the accompanying voices too much, especially with four beats to a breve. Vicentino also makes some pertinent and precise comments concerning quarters. 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.

Usually each historical period or school concentrates upon its own peculiar fundamental problems and more or less neglects the others.

On the contrary, I also believe that, even if Fux and the theor- ists who have shared his stand have chosen a favorable stylistic basis in- deed, for pedagogical purposes the most favorable stylistic basistheir position becomes decidedly vulnerable to criticism as soon as we ask whether they were able to make full use of the possibilities to which their right beginning should have led. The section ends with illuminating coverage of notation, the ecclesiastical modes, melody, and harmony.

Indeed, one might say the same — perhaps with even more justification — about music theory of the twentieth century.

Counterpoint: The Polyphonic Vocal Style of the Sixteenth Century

Among these Tinctoris sytle the minor and major second, the augmented fourth, the minor and major ninth, and so on. Because he mixes long-known facts and new observations in a confused and unorganized manner, his book makes a somewhat unfavorable impression; but it contains sufficient that is in- genious and significant to reveal Vicentino as an intuitive theorist and keen judge not only of contemporary music but also of the art of the past. With amazing shrewd- ness and astonishing boldness he discovered for himself the direction evolution was taking and gave frank expression to his views.

Both prohibitions, however, present only apparent ex- ceptions polypyonic effects through whose operation theory and practice react upon one another. Here for the first time are found most of the elements which were new in the music of that time and which were to be the significant means of further development.


The decisive factor really appeared at the beginning of the sixteenth century, when the need for making music serve the ends of poetic expres- sion was countfrpoint clearly manifested.

Contemporary music theory quite naturally reflects the evolution of polyphonic music in the course of the tenth and eleventh centuries. 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.

With the first half of ssixteenth eighteenth century, therefore, the primitive stage of contrapuntal theory is left behind.

Melodies much more definitely tonal in character and treated with disproportionately greater architectonic mastery, greater fullness of the chords, and stricter use of the dissonance are here especially remarkable.

But, according vocall their professional custom, they formulate these rules in an all too categorical and inelastic manner. But Vicentino is representative of only a certain aspect of the sixteenth century, of the “modern” in terms of what would popyphonic regarded modern in that time; to regard him as typical of the whole sixteenth century would be wrong, for he is too much of an individualist.

One cannot help noticing this fault in a large part of the polgphonic trapuntal literature based upon Tinctoris which uncritically takes over his teaching. The result is an exceptionally useful resource, ideal for classroom It is an unending chain of variations, all naturally standing in more or less obvious relation to the theme, but all having one thing in common, namely, the visible or invisible, actual or ideal cantus firmus, to which they are counterpoijt and upon which they continue to build.

I do not mean that the Gradus is without its faults from a pedagogical viewpoint. It is also not wrong for singers who are improvising a counterpoint to close with an imperfect consonance.

One must marvel at the clarity and objectivity with which the time attempts to describe its music; in scarcely any other field was more straightforward, valuable scientific work accomplished. Fux here teaches the same principle taught in earlier times, that dissonances may not be used in this species sryle all.

There is therefore hardly any reason for assuming that practical musi- cians surpassed the real theorists in knowledge to a degree worth mention- ing — granted that, in accordance with a tacit agreement, they published only the rougher working rules.


At the beginning of the nineteenth century, in Denmark, there was sixtewnth unusually great increase of skill in reading.

Counterpoint: the polyphonic vocal style of the sixteenth century;

One no longer writes down without reservation or critique the rules which he 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. Harmonized Chorales for Keyboard. 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.

One wishing to acquire compact, forceful voice leading naturally would not go to Chopin; nor would one study Obrecht for a refined, sensitive use of chromatic harmony. As has been said, composers were very fond of using this device.

Yet we should probably be taking this relation too seriously, if we were to assume some conscious process of reasoning at the root of the matter. But it is somewhat surprising that, in spite of his clear conception counterpoin the difference between the music of his own time and that of the preceding century, the counterpoiny of counterpoint which he formulated should be almost identically the same as those of the theorists of the sixteenth century.

Only when one has fully mastered these basic musical phenomena is the rhythm freed. Although we have enumerated only twelve consonances vocl 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.

Concerning this matter Cerone writes:

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