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Contrapunctus
Last post Sun, Mar 08 2009 by vincentlpratte, 7 replies.
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Posted on Sun, Feb 15 2009 01:25
by vincentlpratte
Joined on Tue, Oct 07 2008, Québec, Canada, Posts 47

Just a small exercise I did for my counterpoint class. I liked it so I decided to make a small arrangement with Vienna sounds. I used 2 oboe d'amore, one english horn, one basson, doubled by chamber strings and harpsichord.

Any comments on how I could improve it will be gladly taken!

Here's the link: Contrapunctus

New link : http://www.vincentlpratte.com/demo-inmemoria.html

Thanks!
Vincent

Vincent L. Pratte
http://www.vincentlpratte.com

"So much of what we do is ephemeral and quickly forgotten, even by ourselves, so it's gratifying to have something you have done linger in people's memories."
-John Williams
Posted on Sun, Feb 15 2009 13:45
by Basstardo
Joined on Sun, Aug 26 2007, Salzburg, AUSTRIA, Posts 43

Dear Vincent,

Had a chance to listen shortly to your sound file.

First I really want to tell you that it's a very good thing that you're working on historical styles, because that's such an important "tool" and "handcraft" for any serious and professional contemporary composer, in my opinion.

Maybe you can post an extract of the written score, so it would be easier to comment, if you really want seriously to improve that technique and to be commented on details, etc.

I think that's what you're looking for, so I gladly comment honestly because my ears for counterpunctual writting are quite sensitive and maybe I can help you a little, of course only if you really wish.

It's a nice fuga subject that you've created, Vincent. You're in c#-minor as far as I heard by listening to it only once but ended in B-major, that's quite unusual, although I know it's probarbly not the real ending of the piece (I will talk about it later on...)

As soon as the second voice ("Comes") enters there're some issues about the dissonances. You're theme starts with the famous fifth (C# - G#) and you answer it with g# and c# that is correct because it should be better answered "tonal" instead of "real" (or "absolute", sorry, I don't know the correct english terms) but then you have B (in the upper voice) and down "A#", try intead of B "B#" (it's the major third of G#-major, the dominant of your tonic c#-minor) then the "passing note" or "changing note" that you have and it's dissonance will be correct.

At the same passage, if I heard correctly, you have in the first voice (that has become now the "counterpoint" as soon as the second voice entered with the Comes) melodically an audible "triton" (I think the voice goes down from "E" to "A#"), such a thing Bach would have tried to avoid or "hidden" as much as possible (that's a kind of art in counterpoint).

If you could post the score I could mark you the passages that I mean and give you possible solutions, in order to come closer to the Bach-style that you're apparently trying to archive in this piece.

At the end of the sequence you have a dominant7/13 chord. That way as you wrote it would not be written in "baroque style" it comes much, much later in the romantic periode.

I know that Bach has many kind of "crazy" chords already in his wonderful music, but those kind of chords appear in a different way, for example by the use of "passing-dissonances", or especially as a "grace" ("Vorhalt", german) example in all his wonderful Chorals you can find that stuff, but they always dissolve in something else, because they are just "grace notes".

Then you end the sequence on "B" that is quite unusual and very far (well actually, just theoretical it can bee seen as the Dominant of the tonic-parallel), I'm asking myself how you're planing to continue because on this cadence usually you would bring again the theme.

Usually in the style of Bach it would be possible if you bring now for example the Themes again in it's:

.) dominant key (in your case "G# major)

.) parallel major key (E-major)

.etc.

Just some little things I heard by listening to it just once. I hope I didn't scare you too much, but I thought as you wrote you'd like to improve and want comments, I just write what I hear.

If you're really seriously interested in this wonderful "chapter" im music (fugas, counterpoint, etc.) maybe you're working on that at the moment, than I'm really glad if I can give you some advices, just feel free to write me a mail or something, you can also send or scan me your scores and I can comment them if you want. It's always easier to comment music that I can read.

Hope it might have been a little help

Keep on writting and best wishes!

iMac 27" 5K (i7 4,2 GHz, 16 GB Ram, 512 GB Flash, OS X 10.12.3) | Macbook Pro | RME Fireface UCX | Adam A3X studio speakers | Logic Pro X | Avid Pro Tools 12 | Finale 25 | VSL Vienna SE Vol.1 & 2 + Strings PLUS & Epic Orchestra | VSL Brass 1 | Vienna Instruments PRO 2 | Vienna Ensemble PRO 5 | Ivory Grand Pianos 2 | Spectrasonics (Omnisphere & Stylus RMX) | Arturia V-Collection 3 | Addictive Drums | NI Komplete 9 Ultimate | Spitfire Audio (Albion I & IV, Albion ONE) | Cinesamples (Cinebrass Core & Pro, Cineperc) | and many more ...
Posted on Sun, Feb 15 2009 14:03
by Basstardo
Joined on Sun, Aug 26 2007, Salzburg, AUSTRIA, Posts 43

..oh yeah, and I would be really curious about the comment of your teacher of cointerpoint class.

What did he/she think?

Best wishes!

iMac 27" 5K (i7 4,2 GHz, 16 GB Ram, 512 GB Flash, OS X 10.12.3) | Macbook Pro | RME Fireface UCX | Adam A3X studio speakers | Logic Pro X | Avid Pro Tools 12 | Finale 25 | VSL Vienna SE Vol.1 & 2 + Strings PLUS & Epic Orchestra | VSL Brass 1 | Vienna Instruments PRO 2 | Vienna Ensemble PRO 5 | Ivory Grand Pianos 2 | Spectrasonics (Omnisphere & Stylus RMX) | Arturia V-Collection 3 | Addictive Drums | NI Komplete 9 Ultimate | Spitfire Audio (Albion I & IV, Albion ONE) | Cinesamples (Cinebrass Core & Pro, Cineperc) | and many more ...
Posted on Sun, Feb 15 2009 18:34
by vincentlpratte
Joined on Tue, Oct 07 2008, Québec, Canada, Posts 47

Hi,

Thanks a lot for your extended comment, though I must admit I expected comments to be more about the programming with the Vienna sounds than about the writing. Yet I'm glad you took the time to give me your impression, as I'm always looking for ways to improve my work. I must say I agree completely with you about the importance of "historical" writting skills. I think too many contemporary composers lacks writting skills and don't understand what can be learned from the great masters of the past, and we most of the time hear it in their music.

First of all, the work is not intented to be a fugue per se. Our teached wanted us to exercise with tonal answer and motivic imitation. Thus there is no clear countersubject that answers the subject, and as you figured out it's not the real ending of the piece. It is also why we didn't have a harmonic pattern to fill and since we are not actually goind to write a divertimento, it doesn't really matter for now in which tonality we end our exercice. I hesitate on the chord I should use at the cadence because the last few had opened a few possibilities. I chose B just to make a little variety. However I understand that if I were to write a complete fugue, I would be better off indeed fallowing your advice and aiming for a closer, or at least more traditionnal tonality. It is also not a stylistic exercise aimed at sounding like Bach, though Bach is obviously a model and a reference for all our works. Thus I am not bother with harmonic restraints and I feel ok with the final dominant chord (in which the major 13th is technically a suspension of the fifth that then resolves on the last beat). I admit though that it is not a typical Bach figure and that as far as I'm concerned I have never heard such harmony in Bach's work. As you pointed out, this was first inspired to me by romantic a composer, i.e. Verdi through contrapunctical passages in his Messa da Requiem. Beside, our teacher encourages us to see all works we write as small compositions and we do not study Bach's style in particular. Hence why we sometimes do things that Bach would not have done.

As for the more specific things you picked up, I thank you for pointing them out and I must say I agree with you on most of them. First, the natural B heard in the first tonal answer. That is more a problem than you think because the answer to use (as well as the original subject obviously) was given by your teacher (oh and thanks for the compliment by the way, but I haven't wrote the subject!). I don't need to tell you how strongly I have wanted to change the B to B#, but I couldn't! It was a condition of the exercise that the tonal answer should be felt entirely in G# minor. Yet I think the first harmonic mouvement strongly leans towards the C# minor chord (the IVth degree if seen in G# minor). I put in the A# in order to confirm as soon as possible the tone of G# minor and make the next dominant feel as a V/IV instead of a main dominant. The result is not as effective as I would have hoped. Anyway you can bet I'll ask my teacher about that natural B!
The melodic tritton bothers me too, especially because there are only two voices at that point. Providing there would have been three or four layers already, it would probably have been more easily concealed. I'll try to find a better approach to the A#, or just change that A#.

Here's a PDF format of the music sheet: http://www.vincentlpratte.com/contrepoint.pdf

I'm handing my work tomorrow (Monday) and if I don't get comments from my teacher then, I'll get some next week.

Thanks a lot!
Vincent

Vincent L. Pratte
http://www.vincentlpratte.com

"So much of what we do is ephemeral and quickly forgotten, even by ourselves, so it's gratifying to have something you have done linger in people's memories."
-John Williams
Posted on Sun, Feb 15 2009 19:08
by vincentlpratte
Joined on Tue, Oct 07 2008, Québec, Canada, Posts 47

Just worked a little on that second entry you talked about and the tritton. I think I've found a solution. First I've changed the last note on the first measure of the second entry for a natural B. Thus instead of hearing melodically a diminished chord, we hear a fourth fallowed by a minor second. Plus, instead of stopping on the A#, creating a reference point for the hear, I do a broderie to G#, thus changing the melodic contour of this passage to a minor 6th (E-G#) instead of a dimished 5th.

But since it's better hearing and seeing than talking, I've updated both the audio and PDF file so you can comment on those changes.

Vincent L. Pratte
http://www.vincentlpratte.com

"So much of what we do is ephemeral and quickly forgotten, even by ourselves, so it's gratifying to have something you have done linger in people's memories."
-John Williams
Posted on Sun, Feb 15 2009 22:14
by Basstardo
Joined on Sun, Aug 26 2007, Salzburg, AUSTRIA, Posts 43

Great that you answered to my lines and that you didn't take it bad.

I see, your aim was more a "free style". Although there's nothing that speaks against being a Fugue (at least the beginning). You can call it otherwise fugato or something, that's all correct. Or Ricercare would fit, because it has archaic elements, for example the long note values (it reminds me optically a little on Bach's 5-part Fuga in B-flat-minor from the "Welltempered Piano 1", I think it's Nr.22).

I actually prefer when I'm writting style-copies, to stay in one concrete style and to try being as close as possible on a certain composer's technique/style. If you stay free, then it can become a mix of many "musical or harmonic languages" and not so easy to comment or judge (for a teacher, etc.) because some things have different "rules", different meanings, in the history of music theory (in different epoches). So it's also not really easy for me to comment, maybe you better give it to your teacher, who gave you the exercise. Just some little things I saw quickly in the score (nothing big, just some little things):

in bar 18 you have parallel octaves in the outter voices (c# - d#) on the stressed beats (1 and 3).

then there's a triton in bar 13-14: f# - h#

The triton that I meant in bar 6 is still there in the melody. But I don't know how important that actually is. It's usually very depending on the style. For example in renaissance music (Josquin, Palestrina) it would be wrong because you have the triton very accented because it's on both stressed beats, 3 and beat 1. In renaissance period, it's not only "forbitten" to use it within a harmony, but it has also special attention on the melodic side too. (for example if you're in d-dorian than you have to take care with "f" and "b" within the melody that those 2 tones are hidden as best as possible, that's the art of it and of all the great masters like Josquin or Palestrina, and many more)

In bar 13 when you bring in the "Dux" again you could try to use an "e" instead of the grace note "f#". Because usually it's not so good to have a 4th in the two lower voices (or for example the 2nd invertion chord). Maybe you can try in eight-notes f# - e

In bar 17 I hear the missing dominant, you could easily put g# on beat 4, instead of holding d# for a half-note. Just try how it sounds.

This are just some little ideas. Nothing special.

I didn't have time yet to watch it closer. But I think it would be not so easy as it was meant to be in free style. I think in that case you made it well.

About instrumentation: You could try to watch the score of Bach's "Musikalische Opfer", there's the wonderful Ricercare a 6 on the famous thema "Regium". Interesting in terms of instrumentation/orchestration could be also Anton Webern's instrumentation of this Ricercar. That's done so fantastic!! Of course not in baroque style, but in punctual 20th century style.

If you have any questions or you'd like to send me some stuff, my mailadress is andie[at]andieheyer[dot]com feel free to write.

Good luck and best wishes!

iMac 27" 5K (i7 4,2 GHz, 16 GB Ram, 512 GB Flash, OS X 10.12.3) | Macbook Pro | RME Fireface UCX | Adam A3X studio speakers | Logic Pro X | Avid Pro Tools 12 | Finale 25 | VSL Vienna SE Vol.1 & 2 + Strings PLUS & Epic Orchestra | VSL Brass 1 | Vienna Instruments PRO 2 | Vienna Ensemble PRO 5 | Ivory Grand Pianos 2 | Spectrasonics (Omnisphere & Stylus RMX) | Arturia V-Collection 3 | Addictive Drums | NI Komplete 9 Ultimate | Spitfire Audio (Albion I & IV, Albion ONE) | Cinesamples (Cinebrass Core & Pro, Cineperc) | and many more ...
Posted on Sun, Mar 08 2009 15:57
by vincentlpratte
Joined on Tue, Oct 07 2008, Québec, Canada, Posts 47

I removed Contrapunctus from my website and instead replace it with a new, more complete, piece. This one is called Fugato In Memoria and was written in memory of my grandfather who died a few days ago. It was played at his funerals. The original version is for organ only, but I added a few baroque instruments in this one.

You can listen to the piece here : http://www.vincentlpratte.com/demo-inmemoria.html

Thank you all in advance for your comments!

Vincent L. Pratte
http://www.vincentlpratte.com

"So much of what we do is ephemeral and quickly forgotten, even by ourselves, so it's gratifying to have something you have done linger in people's memories."
-John Williams
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