Music 20A:

First-Year Theory: Species Counterpoint

Fall, 2000


  • Species Counterpoint Notes
    From Dr. Harold Powers and Reale, from Ragionamenti Musicali, by Angelo Berardi, 1681.
    A list of cantus firmi will also be given out. All assignments will be done using these CF's; and, in each assignment the studewnt writes one setting above the CF and one setting below. When a phrase is specified to be in invertible counterpoint at octave, the phrases wil contain the same notes above and below the CF.

  • Gauldin, Robert, A Practical Approach to Sixteenth-Century Counterpont, (Waveland Press), 1995.
  • Benjamin, Horvit, Nelson, Music for Sightsinging, (Wadsworth), 2000, 3rd. Edition (referred to as MS).
    All assignments (labelled SS) in prepared sightsinging come from this book.
  • Brings, et al, A New Approach to Keyboard Harmony, (W.W. Norton), 1979.

  • There is graded dictation at the beginning of each class: any student who misses a dictation will earn a zero, which cannot be made up. There will be seven written assignments in species counterpoint, and they are due on the days indicated. Any late assignment will be downgraded: since papers will have numbers (e.g. "0" is no mistakes and an "A") a number will be added for each class day late. Papers with the grade of "X" must be rewritten and submitted at the next class.

  • Thursday, Sept. 28: Organization of the class.
    Subsections for musicianship will be assigned and counterpoint notes will be distributed.
    TA will test keyboard skills in the second hour.

  • M, Oct. 2: Introduction.
    Using Chopin's Scherzo, Op. 31 we will discuss why theory class is essential.
    Read the rules for Species I. In class practice of Species I.
  • T, Oct. 3:
    Explanation of the fixed Do system of solfege with practice in class. Refer to Music for Sightsinging, P. ix.
    Practice preliminary exercises in rhythm (MS, PP. 2-3.) in class.
  • W, Oct. 4: Species I assignment due (CF #1).
    Read Gauldin, PP. 1-12.
  • Th, Oct.5:
    Practice major scales as solfege in class (MS, PP. 4-5).
    Prepare SS (in MS) PP. 8-9 for a grade (you are allowed to write the syllables in your book for the first three weeks).

  • M, Oct. 9: Second Species I assignment, with invertible cpt., due (CF #5).
    Read the rules for Species II.
    Read Gauldin, PP. 15-25.
  • T, Oct 10:
    Prepare SS, PP. 13-14.
    Work on rhythm in class, PP. 10-12, including duets.
  • W, Oct. ll: Discussion of the Church Modes.
    Read Gauldin, PP. 12-14 and PP. 26-35, two-voice texture.
    In class practice in Species II
  • Th, Oct 12: keyboard practice.
    Prepare Brings (A New Approach to Keyboard Harmony), P. 4. to be graded.
    Prepare SS, PP.15-20.
    Drill P. 21 in class (unprepared).

  • M, Oct. 16: More Species II practice.
    Read rules for Species III.
    Read Gauldin, PP. 36-41.
  • T, Oct. 17: Cadences.
    Prepare SS, PP. 22-24.
    Drill in class PP. 25-26 and rhythmic excercises, P. 27.
  • W, Oct. 18: Species II due.
    Read Gauldin, PP. 42-46.
    Discuss sheet on figuration types.
    Read rules for Species II and III combined.
  • Th, Oct. 19: Singing in class.
    Using motet examples from the end of Gauldin, perform some excerpts in class.
    TA will also proide two-part excerpts in the style.
    Prepare SS, PP. 28-29 (rhythmic exercises), and PP. 31and 33 for sightsinging.
    Drill PP. 30 and 32 in class, plus other rhythmic duets provided by TA.

  • M, Oct. 23: Species III practice.
    Analysis of quarter-note motion in musical examples.
  • T, Oct. 24: review harmonic intervals with drill and testing
    Prepare SS PP. 33-35. Drill in class examples and duets to P. 38.
    Prepare rhythmic exercises PP. 39-40. Drill duets, P. 41 in class.
  • W, Oct. 25 Species III assignment due (CF #3)
  • Th, Oct. 26: Begin performing two-part music in class. Drill alto clef.
    Correct errors in assignment in Gauldin, P. 47 (in class).
    prepare SS PP. 43-44. Drill examples PP. 45-47.

  • M, Oct. 30: Species II and III drill.
    Drill on the suspension dissonance.
    Read gauldin, PP. 48-53.
  • T, Oct. 31: Dictation Midterm exam.
    Also, review sightsinging at sight. Use previous assignments as review.
    Sing and play: TA will bring in two-part exercises, and students will sing one part and play another.
  • W, Nov. 1: Melodic style.
    Read rules for Species IV.
  • Th, Nov.2: sightsinging and keyboard midterm.
    students will be individually graded by professor and TA on a combination of prepared exercises, announced on the previous Tuesday.

  • M, Nov. 6: Species II and II combined assignment due (CF #9).
    Read Gauldin, PP. 55-62.
  • T, Nov. 7: drill major, minor, augmented, and diminished harmonic and melodic intervals.
    Prepare rhythmic exercises, PP. 55-56.
    Drill duets, P. 57.
    SS at sight from TA materials. They should be easier than the prepared exercises.
  • W, Nov. 8 Discussion of rhythm.
    Species V workshop in class.
  • Th, Nov. 9: Check on students' keyboard skills
    TA will bring in simple keyboard music to sight read.

  • M, Nov. 13: Species IV assignment due (CF#4).
    Comparison of imitation techniques: 16th C. vs. Webern (Op. 2)
    Review of contrapuntal principles.
  • T, Nov. 14: intensive SS drill in minor mode.
    Prepare SS, PP. 61-62. Drill PP. 58-60 in class.
  • W, Nov. 15: Read rules of Species V.
    Relationship of church modes to major and minor modes discussed.
  • Th, Nov. 16: sing and play.
    TA will bring in two-part exercises and students will sing one line and play another.
    Drill duets, PP. 66-69 in class.

  • M, Nov. 20: Species V assignment due (CF #6) (must contain invertible counterpoint).
  • T, Nov. 21: keyboard introduction to triads.
    perform in class two-voice examples from Gauldin, PP. 63-75.
    TA will discuss triad types (Brings, P. 7), and students will perform exercise 1.7 on P. 8.
  • W, Nov. 22: Individual appointments.
    Professor will see those students with counterpoint problems.
  • Th, Nov. 23: Thanksgiving holiday.

  • M, Nov. 27: Read rules of two-part counterpoint.
    Analysis of Lassus two-part Motets.
    Analysis of two-voice examples in Gauldin, PP. 63-75.
  • T, Nov. 28: Individual appointments.
    TA will see those students with serious deficiencies for individual drill.
  • W, Nov.29: Species V assignment #2 due (CF#8). Analysis, continued
    Discussion of three-part writing.
    Read Gauldin, PP. 76-86.
  • Th, Nov. 30:five and six-voice music.
    perform in class examples from Gauldin, PP. 205-233 (selection by TA).
    keyboard: prepare exercises in Brings, P. 9.

  • M, Dec. 4: Analysis of texture.
    Examples will be drawn from Palestrina, Byrd, Morley, Tallis, etc. up to 40 parts.
    Read Gauldin, PP. 87-95, cadences in three-part texture.
  • T, Dec. 5: Review of dictation.
    Intensive drill of basic principles.
  • W, Dec. 6: Review of counterpoint principles. Two-part counterpoint (from etiher Species V assignment) due. An option is an analysis paper of assigned 2-part pieces by Lassus.
    application of voice leading to music in the appropriate style.
    Read Gauldin, PP. 96-119.
    No late papers are accepted after this day.
  • Th, Dec. 7: Review of sightsinging.
    Drill of at-sight reading in preparation for the final exam, which occurs in exam week. Presently, it is scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 14 from 3 PM until 6 PM. Be sure to have this time available (no exceptions).

  • This syllabus and all other materials are also available at under the heading of educational materials, subheading of syllabi.

    Students may seek help from the professor at the office hour, Thursday 2:00-3:00 PM, by e-mail (, or by phone (dedicated line available until 8PM). In advance of due date, assignments may be faxed for approval.

    Updated, Nov. 14, 2000.

    Students whould check this version for specific CF assignments..