Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/753

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


examples in the old Ecclesiastical Modes; but Albrechtsberger deals both with the Strict, and the Free Styles, while Cherubim accommodates the laws of the Strict Style to the tonality of the modern Scale, with such consummate skill, that they bear all the appearance of having been originally enacted in connection with it; thus solving, for the modern student, a very difficult problem, which Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, were left to work out for themselves.

In most important particulars, these three great teachers follow the same general plan. All write their examples on Canti fenni, consisting entirely of Semibreves : all make their Canti fenni close by descending one Degree upon the Tonic, or the Final of the Mode : and all agree in dividing their exercises into five distinct classes, now known as the Five Orders of Counterpoint, the Rules for which may be thus epitomised :

GENERAL LAWS. The early Contrapuntists in- sist strongly upon the observance of the four following ' Cardinal Rules ' (Regulce cardinales).

I. One Perfect Concord may proceed to an- other, in Contrary, or Oblique Motion ; but not in Similar Motion.

II. A Perfect Concord may proceed to an Imperfect Concord in all the three kinds of Motion.

III. An Imperfect Concord may proceed to a Perfect Concord in Contrary, or Oblique Motion ; but not in Similar Motion.

IV. One Imperfect Concord may proceed to another in all the three kinds of Motion.

The intention of these Rules is, to prevent the possibility of Consecutive or Hidden Fifths, Oc- taves, and Unisons.

FIRST ORDER (Note against note). One Semibreve must be written, in each Part, against each Semibreve in the Canto fermo. All pro- gressions must be purely Diatonic ; the employ- ment of Chromatic Intervals being utterly pro- hihited, both in Harmony and in Melody, in this and all the succeeding Orders. No Dis- cords of any kind are admissible. In two Parts, the only permitted Intervals are, the three Perfect, and the four Imperfect Concords : *. e. the Unison, Octave, and Perfect Fifth; 1 and the Major and Minor Thirds and Sixths. In three or more Parts, the only Harmonies permitted are, the Major and Minor Common Chords, and the Chord of the Sixth. The Chord of the 6-4 and the Augmented and Diminished Triads are prohibited ; but the First Inversion of the Di- minished Triad is admissible, because none of its Intervals are in Dissonance with the Bass. In three Parts, each Chord should, if possible, consist of a Root, Third, and Fifth ; or, a Bass- note, Third, and Sixth. In four Parts, the Octave should be added. But, in cases of necessity, any Interval may be doubled, or omitted. The se- parate Parts may proceed, either in Conjunct

i In Counterpoint, the Perfect Fourth, when used alone, or reckoned from the Bass note, is held to be, and treated as, a Discord. When it occurs among the upper notes of a Chord, the Bass taking no share in its formation, it is treated as a Perfect Concord. The same rule applies to the Augmented. Fourth (Tritonus), and the Diminished Fifth (Quinta falsa).


Movement, by Major or Minor Seconds ; or, disjunctly, by leaps of a Major or Minor Third, a Perfect Fourth, a Perfect Fifth, a Minor Sixth, or an Octave. All other leaps, including that of the Major Sixth, are absolutely prohibited. The first Semibreve, in Two-Part Counterpoint, must be accompanied by a Perfect Concord : in three or more Parts, one Part at least must form a Perfect Concord with the Bass. In the remaining Semibreves, Imperfect Concords are to be pre- ferred, in two Parts.

In this, and all other Orders of Counterpoint, the Parts may cross each other, to any extent.

Consecutive Fifths, Octaves, and Unisons, in Similar Motion, are forbidden, in any number of Parts. In four or more Parts, Consecutive Fifths are permitted, in Contrary Motion, but only as a last resource. 2 This Licence, however, does not extend to Consecutive Octaves, which were far more carefully avoided, by the Great Masters, than Consecutive Fifths, even in Contrary Mo- tion.

But Consecutive Fifths and Octaves are only forbidden when they occur between the same two Parts. When produced by different Parts, or, by making the Parts cross each other, they are perfectly lawful. 8

Hidden Fifths and Octaves are as strictly for- bidden, in two Parts, as real Consecutives ; but, in four or more Parts, as at (d), in Ex. 3, the Great Masters never troubled themselves to avoid them.*

The False Relation of the Tritonus (Aug- mented Fourth) is strictly forbidden, in two Parts ; but permitted, in three, or more. That of the Octave is forbidden, even in eight Parts.

In two Parts, the Unison is forbidden, except in the first and last notes. The Octave is per- mitted, in Oblique Motion ; and, in Contrary Motion, also, provided it be approached by separation i.e. by the mutual divergence of the Parts which produce it ; as at (c), in Ex. 2. Its employment by approximation '. e. by the convergence of the Parts, as at (6) in Ex. a is only permitted in the final Cadence. 5

In Two-Part Counterpoint of this Order, it is forbidden to take more than three Thirds, or Sixths, in succession, unless the Parts be made to cross each other.

The final Cadence is formed, either by a Major Sixth followed by an Octave, as at (c), in Ex. a ; or, by a Minor Third, followed by an Octave, or an Unison, as at (a) in Ex. I. In two Parts, these Intervals will complete the necessary for- mula. In more than two Parts, the same inter- vals must be given to the Canto fermo, and one

2 It will be seen, that, In this particular, the Strict Style is more Indulgent than the Free. Palestrlna constantly availed himself of the Licence ; especially when writing for Equal Voices.

3 See vol. i. p. 736.

< See HIDDEN FIFTHS AND OCTAVES, vol. 1. p. 735.

s The earlier writers on Counterpoint insist very strongly on the observance of this Rule ; and extend its action, with even greater severity, to the Unison, in the few cases in which the employment of this Interval is permitted. Fux (pp. 53, 54) is inclined to treat it with indulgence, provided the converging Parts proceed in Conjunct Movement ; but only on this condition. Albrechtsberger forbids the progression in two Tarts ; but sanctions It, In three. Cherubini makes no mention of the Bule.

�� �