Top critical review
16 people found this helpful
on 11 June 2012
I am surprised by the number of positive reviews for a book that I consider valuable only as a "historical item" and nothing much more. And the reason can be summarized in this sentence: It is outdated.
First, the contents. The book is apparently the first to provide a systematic approach for learning counterpoint, via the "five species" concept, which has been adopted more or less by every counterpoint book that followed. However, this is the only positive. The main problem is that the author deals with modal music, i.e., pre-Bach period. This means that the issue of harmonic progressions is not addressed at all. And, of course, this is of fundamental importance if anyone wants to compose tonal music (in the style of Bach, Mozart, e.t.c.).
Second, the presentation. First published about 300 years ago, you cannot expect the presentation to come close to today's standards in educational books. The author adopts a "dialogue" approach which, although sufficient for a "light read", does not allow for a systematic and disciplined study by the reader. Also, the language is sometimes odd and information is so spread out that the book cannot be used as a reference for a certain topic.
There are far better books on counterpoint (e.g., Kennan, Prout) that are excellent both in terms of practical utility (i.e., teach you how to compose tonal music) as well as presentation. If it so happens you are interested in modal counterpoint/music Jeppesen's book is great.