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Counterpoint in Composition Hardcover – 1 Jan 1969

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw Hill Higher Education; HARDCOVER!!!!!!!!!HARDCOVER!!!!!!!! edition (1 Jan 1969)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0070544972
  • ISBN-13: 978-0070544970
  • Product Dimensions: 25.4 x 17.8 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,135,208 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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The study of counterpoint is the study of voice leading. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Bubblefish2 on 8 Nov 2010
Format: Paperback
This book arrived promptly and in brilliant condition. The contents are very useful, I'd recommend this book to any university or college student studying counterpoint, as it explains very clearly using many examples how do write counterpoint, starting from the bare basics.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
51 of 53 people found the following review helpful
Good book if you are patient with the writing 29 Nov 2004
By Christopher Bonds - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I must differ with the reviewer who said (in 2000) that this book is "fairly new." It first came out in the late 1960s or early 1970s, because I used to use it as a textbook in my theory courses at a midwestern liberal arts college. My experience was that the typical undergraduate music major found it rather rough going, but maybe I wasn't the best teacher back then, either! I myself learned a lot from the book. As far as I know, it's the only book on counterpoint that successfully illustrates how composed music (e.g., by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, etc.) is built on the same principles as species counterpoint. This should be an answer to the student who has trouble seeing the value of those seemingly endless (and amazingly difficult!) species counterpoint exercises. While the traditional answer has been "it teaches you discipline," S & S are able to show (convincingly, in my opinion) that beneath the surface of a brilliant piano sonata of Beethoven can be found the basic principles of voice leading that only species counterpoint can teach.

I agree with the reviewer who pointed out that the authors are not always consistent with earlier books with respect to the rules of species counterpoint. However, it must be said that in most cases they point this out and supply a reason for their departure from tradition. For example, I think that part of the reason they don't allow voice crossing in the species exercises is that part crossing is a "pure" contrapuntal technique that would severely weaken the polarity or independence between the two voices, and make cloudy the connection they seek to establish between the species approach and the techniques of prolonged counterpoint (aka "real" music) they discuss later in the book. I have no problem with that. Neither do I have a problem with Jeppesen allowing voice crossing in species counterpoint, because he's approaching the technique with a different goal in mind, namely that of imitating the style of Palestrina. The two books have different aims, and the prospective user should be aware of that.

The point about the authors' prose style that one reviewer made is very well taken. To me it is overly pompous and inflated, and many of their points could be made in far fewer words. It's a little suggestive of the image that the authors occupy a lofty perch from which they toss down a few crumbs of learning from time to time to students, but even as they do so, they don't think the students are really worthy of receiving this wisdom. Maybe that's a bit harsh, but I really can't see my current students warming up very much to this kind of writing. There is definitely no feeling that "you too can succeed in writing excellent counterpoint" here. Times do change, after all.

If you are reading this review you are perhaps either a teacher looking for a good text, or a musician who wants a stronger theory background. By all means get this book and learn from it. But don't let the authors' prose style make you feel inferior, like a lowly worm who, no matter how hard he or she tries, can never achieve results worthy of the masters. Better just to accept them for the pretentious pedants they are, and forgive them for it.
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Kind of lofty in tone, but a pretty good book 7 Aug 2002
By T. Murphy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm sure lots of people have been in this situation: you blitz through species counterpoint in your freshman year as a music major, only to realize its importance much later (i.e. after your extensive tour of the rest of music theory). Books like Salzer/Schachter's are a good way to go back and do it properly. This book is excellent and thorough, covering counterpoint not only as a theoretical grounding for later harmonic theory, but also examining its use in large-scale composition. The only problem with the book is the Salzer/Schachter's prose- it's like they're bringing down the counterpoint rules on tablets from the sacred mountain. Some procedures are flatly forbidden that more relaxed authors -- like Jeppesen -- excuse (in instances where fudging the rules produces a beautiful voice leading). In some cases, they contradict other authors- Jeppesen cannot encourage voice-crossing enough, Salzer/Schachter list it as a mortal sin. Worse, Salzer/Schachter write their exercises for 'The Student', an individual of impossible concentration and diligence who can compose whole exercises in his/her head and would be ashamed to even touch a piano. In other words, their tone is not exactly encouraging- compared to 'The Student', your early efforts are bound to feel pretty clumsy (at least mine were). Still, this is a nice book with lots of good exercises and examples drawn from real music literature. Between Salzer/Schachter, Fux, and Jeppesen, it's more than possible to make a thorough review of counterpoint working by yourself.
23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
The best (and most serious) counterpoint text to date 21 Aug 2000
By Michael Gillette - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The Salzer counterpoint book is a must for any serious musician. This book adresses counterpoint not as a theoretical abstraction but as a concrete musical experience. All too often counterpoint is reduced to meaningless exercises not connected with real world music. This book combines Fux's species counterpoint whith Schenkerian thought (with out overdoing it) to create the one of the most solid counterpoint book to date.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
An essential text for any serious composer. 9 July 2009
By A. Wood - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This text not only provides an in depth tutorial of species counterpoint, it also provides a wealth of examples spanning many styles and periods. Too many counterpoint books neglect the application of contrapuntal technique in real compositional context but that is not the case here.
A Complete Guide 3 Dec 2012
By karengersh - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A complete guide to the composition of writing in all species.A clear an concise book and a must for
all who study composition/theory.
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