Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Reversal of values

It's easy to think that these techniques only apply to certain styles -- that's the way they are traditionally taught. Usually the fledgling musician is then left on his or her own to figure out how to move beyond what is taught.

Norden says this:

"What is shown below is in accordance with the traditional rules for academic counterpoint. This is provided merely as a frame of reference. Actually, the correctness of the counterpoint as such has nothing whatever to do with the mathematical calculation of canons should a composer's artistic intentions call for the construction of contrapuntal combinations quite outside the scope of traditional academic availabilities."

Does he tell us how to achieve those other "contrapuntal combinations"?

In a word: no.

I turn for a moment to 20th century American composer, Henry Cowell. In his book, New Musical Resources, he describes another approach:

"Let us, however meet the question of what would result if we were frankly to shift the centre of musical gravity from consonance, on the edge of which it has been long poised, to seeming dissonance, on the edge of which it now rests...An examination in fact would reveal that all the rules of Bach would seem to have been reversed, not with the result of substituting chaos, but with that of substituting a new order."

So, that's what I did today. I took the rules of 1st species and reversed them. Instead of requiring all the harmonic intervals to be consonances, they are now required to be dissonances. I even went through Norden's double counterpoint technique for the critical juncture but this time chose dissonant intervals that would invert to other dissonances.

More about this tomorrow.

(click on image to enlarge)

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