Counterpoint

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Cynwulf
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Counterpoint

Postby Cynwulf » Thu Mar 26, 2009 7:27 am UTC

A while ago I discovered that I greatly enjoy counterpoint. I would very much like if you could post your favorite classical or baroque pieces featuring counterpoint. Preferably strings, but I'll take whatever I can get.

For those who have a fuzzy grasp of counterpoint, I give an example (with purdy colors!): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pVadl4ocX0M

Thank you in advance.
L'homme est libre au moment qu'il veut l'être. | Man is free at the instant he wants to be.
- Voltaire

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vers
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Re: Counterpoint

Postby vers » Fri Mar 27, 2009 12:59 am UTC

i've got no pieces for you...just some advice. I'm studying counterpoint currently as a music performance major.
I don't know if you ever planned on studying counterpoint but don't. It isn't hard, but it is incredibly tedious and mind numbing and will shatter any hopes you have of creating 'good' music...at least in the first few species. The last 2 tend to lighten up.

fun to hear though. good luck in your search.

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Masily box
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Re: Counterpoint

Postby Masily box » Fri Mar 27, 2009 5:24 am UTC

well, I've got to heartily disagree with vers. Species counterpoint study can be a really rewarding experience, and actually it's hard to imagine appreciating much of the art music of the last 500+ years without having studied it. And, actually, I always thought 4th species was a lot more restricting than 3rd species is.

Since you ask for examples of string counterpoint, the first thing that comes to mind are the solo violin partitas and sonatas by J.S. Bach. The really famous example is the chaconne at the end of the d minor partita, but there are other really good movements in there--the second movement of each of the three sonatas, for example, is an awesome fugue. Hmmm... many of Mozart's later quartets involve some sophisticated counterpoint. I rather like the fugal elements in the finale of K387 (then again, this movement alternates between learned counterpoint and more galant-style textures, so it's maybe not what you want).

If you like instrumental counterpoint from the Baroque, I'd really recommend checking out some vocal music from the Renaissance. Palestrina can be a little bland, but Orlando di Lasso (especially the Psalmi Davidis poenitentiales) and Josquin des Prez (like his version of 'Miserere mei Deus') are to die for. Renaissance motets, once you get into them, are really, really, terrific.

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SirMustapha
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Re: Counterpoint

Postby SirMustapha » Fri Mar 27, 2009 1:19 pm UTC

Watching that video I realised how much I'm put off from seeing music as simply juggling notes around. I enjoyed listening to that piece very, very much, but not trying to work it out like a puzzle.

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Cynwulf
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Re: Counterpoint

Postby Cynwulf » Sat Mar 28, 2009 5:30 am UTC

I'm not actively studying counterpoint or music; I just enjoy it. I lack the musical vocabulary to describe precisely how, but I do know I enjoy it for its complexity.

Thanks for the suggestions, Masily box. Can you recommend any other Bach sonatas or fugues? I think I enjoy the multiple line/instrument pieces. I'm not very knowledgeable on vocals (I had to look up motet), but Miserere mei Deus was very nice. Anything else similar (composition-wise, not necessarily a psalm setting)?
L'homme est libre au moment qu'il veut l'être. | Man is free at the instant he wants to be.
- Voltaire

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Antimatter Spork
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Re: Counterpoint

Postby Antimatter Spork » Sat Mar 28, 2009 2:07 pm UTC

Counterpoint is pretty awesome, but it exists in almost every style of music, so saying you want music with counterpoint is only slightly more specific than saying you want some music. However, when most people talk about counterpoint they're either talking about Renaissance music (like Palestrina or Des Prez) or Baroque counterpoint (Bach Bach Bach Bach Bach Bach Bach)

I don't know much about Renaissance music (it seems like other people in this thread have that covered pretty well though), but I can recommend some Bach. The Well-Tempered Clavier is an excellent place to start, thought it is all keyboard music. If you want string counterpoint, check out any of Bach's orchestral music (he wrote about a billion cantatas, which have very nice contrapuntal writing as well as choral/solo work). There's also the orchestral suites, Brandenburg concerti, etc. There have also been some instrumental versions of the Art of the Fugue. I think the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields recorded a version with some fugues set for orchestra, some on string quartet, and some on keyboards. If you can find it, it's a good listen (I've only ever seen it on audiocassette at my local library, I don't know if it's ever been re-released on CD or digitally).

If you want something more modern, lots of contemporary and 20th century composers wrote some great contrapuntal music (some of which is intensely modern, like the serialists, and some of which has more in common stylistically, like the neoclassicists). Hindemith was very fond of counterpoint, and his music is very influenced by Bach, though you wouldn't be able to tell from listening to the pitch content. I think that Avro Pärt has also written some nice contrapuntal stuff in a more neo-renaissance style, but I'm not really familiar with much of his work (besides sightreading Solfeggio one time) so I can't really be sure off of the top of my head.
Albert Schweitzer wrote:There are two means of refuge from the misery of life — music and cats.


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