Study of Counterpoint
Last updated: 17.12.19
Printed: 1965 Author: Johann Joseph Fux
Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company ISBN: 0393002772
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Paperback (June 1965) , usually ships within 24 hours.
Amazon Review
The early fundamentals of composition, October 16, 2001
Reviewer: Matthew Dallman from Saint paul, MN United States
[reprint -- sorry]At one point in the text, Aloysius pretty much says it all: "These lessons are not worked out for actual use but for exercise. If one know how to read one need no longer bother with spelling; similarly, the species of counterpoint are given only for purposes of study."I have been working out of this book (which is really an excerpt of a larger book called _Steps to Perfection_) with a private tutor for a year, and it has been a difficult but rewarding experience. Essentially, the species provide a platform to learn how to compose concurrent melodic lines. Each following species builds upon the knowledge of the previous. Rules that begin absolute slowly become contextual. While the book's original title is anachronistic, the program within encourages steps towards the understanding of basic tonal principles that have formed the foundation of the grand tradition of western music.I'd recommend keeping an open mind about the rules. These are treated as the "rules," but are expected to be broken with time and experience. After all, the rules are no more than the collected general tendancies of the great composers.Another thing to keep in mind is that Fux's book provides an introduction to composition based upon the limitations--and, accordingly, the beauty--of the human voice. This book does not deal with the embellishments and ornaments possible on all instruments.More caveats: One, I would recommend studying this book with an experienced teacher. It's like a beginning yoga text: basic, but someone with experience will put things in perspective. Two, the exercises, especially for three and four voices, are difficult and require commitment and discipline. (Again, like yoga.) There is no need to rush through the exercises. Three, Fux's book should be part of an integrated tonal curriculum that at least includes four-part writing and ear-training. And Fux's book is hardly the last word even on counterpoint! At the very least, study 18th century and 20th century counterpoint, because those broad styles used Fux's treatise as their basic foundations. Those who criticize this text do so because it does not immediately apply to modern music situations. But they often fail to see how the text fits beautifully within the broad spectrum of composition. This book reflects the basics of tonal architecture. No more, no less