Question on the counterpoint basics presented in module 5 (recapitulation). The intervals suggested were the following:
- It almost seems asymmetric: why not a P4 for example?
- Also, this assumes two voices, which seems mostly the case in Beethoven ‘s sonata, although there is also a pedal point, which now brings 3 notes (a chord). In that case are there similar guidelines for chords: Which chords are the most common for counterpoint?
My guidelines here revolve specifically around what Beethoven wrote, and I don’t remember a perfect 4th being in there, which is why I left it out.
But in general, the perfect, in the context of 2 voice counterpoint, is considered a dissonance. This term isn’t really a great term for modern ears, as we generally hear it as consonant, but ultimately, it has a tension that lead baroque and classical composers to treat it as a dissonant interval that needs to be resolved. You see it most often in ⁶/₄ chords.
Just as you would write a simple chord tone melody, I find the easiest way to write counterpoint, is to write a counter chord tone melody below, using mostly 3rds and 6ths. Take a look at my symposium called A Cheater’s Guide to Counterpoint, because I think it will be helpful.
The pedal point is separate from the counterpoint. You have to think about counterpoint as a harmonic device that doesn’t affect the techniques you use on the harmony above it. For instance, you could have a normal functional progression in C major, say C-F-dm-G7-C, but then throw an Ab or F# below it. It doesn’t change the way you would write the progression, just the context of the progression.
Here, the pedal tone doesn’t have a large effect on what Beethoven does with the counterpoint.