Reddit Reddit reviews The Study of Counterpoint: From Johann Joseph Fux's Gradus Ad Parnassum

We found 27 Reddit comments about The Study of Counterpoint: From Johann Joseph Fux's Gradus Ad Parnassum. Here are the top ones, ranked by their Reddit score.

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The Study of Counterpoint: From Johann Joseph Fux's Gradus Ad Parnassum
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27 Reddit comments about The Study of Counterpoint: From Johann Joseph Fux's Gradus Ad Parnassum:

u/Sleutelbos · 88 pointsr/WeAreTheMusicMakers

A counter-melody is a 'less important' melody played against the primary melody. Historically there was a period when playing multiple melodies against each other was the absolute essence of music, and folks like Bach dominated (called 'counterpoint' music). A very famous example, that is 'simple' so easy to follow is Bach's Invention #1:

His 'inventions' were for two melodies. He also wrote 'sinfonias' which were for three voices, and are a bit more complex, for example his Sinfonia No.2:

Listening to this with headphones while trying to consciously follow all melodies is quite a peculiar experience. :)

And if you want to feel depressed and talentless, check from 10:54: Here he starts with the primary melody and then has the second melody join. This is exhausting to *really* listen to and my peanut brain is too small to ever hope to play something like this. Shredding? Sure, I can start slow, practice a ton and end up fast. But having both hands play *this* independently? Awe-inspiring. Sitting down and composing this on a piece of paper almost 400 years ago? Madness. :D

In baroque counterpoint the goal is to make every melody interesting in and of themselves, and make it sound 'effortless harmoniously together'. It should sound like these melodies were born together. In practice this aint easy at all and you'll be tempted to see one as the 'primary melody' and the others as 'subservient' where you can take shortcuts to make them fit the main melody. At that point it is no longer true counterpoint but you can still call it a counter-melody. Taken further you'll have things like arpeggios; parts that obviously fit the primary melody but are themselves so bland they are clearly accompaniment instead of a melody in their own right.

If you're interested, a very well-regarded (though rather pedantic) book that starts at the basic and offers exercises is the many century old If you want to go *really* old-school you can go as close to the original here:

I think it'll help most songwriters/composers to know the basics, even if you dont care about classical counterpoint at all. :)

u/spoonopoulos · 19 pointsr/musictheory

There are a lot of courses. Any specific topics you're interested in?

Edit: I'll just list a few anyway that I've used in classes (this may not reflect all professors' choices for the same subjects).

Tonal Harmony: Kostka-Payne - Tonal Harmony

Counterpoint 1: A Berklee book by the late professor Rick Applin. Some also use this Fux translation/adaptation

Counterpoint 2: Bach Inventions & Sinfonias (any edition, really)

"Advanced" Counterpoint: The Well-Tempered Clavier (again, any edition)

Early Twentieth-Century Harmony: Persichetti - Twentieth-Century Harmony

Post-Tonal Theory/Analysis: Straus - Intro to Post-Tonal Theory

Instrumentation/Orchestration: Adler - The Study of Orchestration &
Casella/Mortari - The Technique of Contemporary Orchestration

Western Music History - Burkholder/Paiisca - A History of Western Music (8th or 9th edition)

Conducting 1 - Notion Conducting

Conducting 2 Notion + Stravinsky's Petrushka

Berklee's own (jazz-based) core harmony and ear-training curricula use Berklee textbooks written by professors which, as someone else mentioned, come unbound and shrink-wrapped at the bookstore. You can find older (PDF) versions of the Berklee harmony textbooks here. Of course this list only represents explicit book choices - there are a lot of excerpt-readings, and there's a lot of instruction that isn't found in these books even in the associated courses.

u/WorkedInTheory · 7 pointsr/drumcorps

Without question, the best way to learn how to arrange is to put in the work transcribing some of your favorite arrangers and dissecting the way they approach things.

Study the chord progressions they use and analyze their voicing. Break down how they use counterpoint vs. countermelody. Pay attention to how they use every single voice, common articulations, and where in the range do they have each part "live" (1st vs. 2nd vs 3rd).

Write down what you observe about how they do things, try to put it into words. Compare/contrast between arrangers. This will help you better internalize what they are doing and help you to find your own style.


Before doing any of this, however, I suggest to read, read, read. Here are a few books to get your started:


The Study of Counterpoint - Johann Joseph Fux


Contemporary Counterpoint: Theory & Application - Beth Denisch


Guide to the Practical Study of Harmony - Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky


Principles of Orchestration - Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov


Essential Dictionary of Orchestration - Dave Black & Tom Gerou


Treatise on Instrumentation - Hector Berlioz & Richard Strauss


Arranging for Horns - Jerry Gates


Another excellent resource is Bandestration -



Another great read that is HIGHLY applicable to writing for marching music is:


Fundamentals of Musical Acoustics


If you are interested to explore interplay between wind/percussion arranging and electronics:


Acoustic and MIDI Orchestration for the Contemporary Composer - Andrea Pejrolo


u/allemande · 6 pointsr/WeAreTheMusicMakers

For anything that involves advanced music theory, or more technical elements of music, your best bet (IMHO) is to stay clear from jazz/rock books or anything "popular" and read from traditional academic/classical composers. That is, if you're looking to understand music from a more historic point of view of how is was used, and how it worked for hundreds of years and how it still works today.

There are tons of good books out there, but off the top of my head I reccomend:

Regarding the art of counterpoint:

Preliminary exercises in Counterpoint - Schoenberg

Also, you could check out the traditional Fux's Study of Counterpoint, but I think Schoenberg's book is far more complete and incentive.

Regarding the art of Harmony:

For a long time I've always thought that books could educate you in any way, until I met my harmony teacher. After studying with her for a couple years I find it hard to believe how much information, technique, and art is missing from almost every book on the subject, some are exceptions, obviously, but my recommendation is that there is no better way of learning this but with personal intruction. Also, the teacher needs to be someone who has had a strong education in music from well-known masters of the past, as was my teacher.

Anyways, regarding harmony in the more poetical and theoretical sense I reccomend :

Rameau's Treatise on Harmony

and of course, Schoenberg's Theory of Harmony

For a more technical approach to harmony I haven't found any books I'm really fond of, but I do think that Paul Hindemith's book is a very good option.

For something in the middle I recommend this

Regarding form and structure in music:

Once again, I have never seen information and instruction similar to that which I received with my professors, however here are a few good picks...

Schoenberg's Fundamentals of musical composition

and 2 books that I found very useful were...
(these I didn't find on

from German composer Clemens Kuhn: "Formenlehre der Musik" (this is only in German)

and from Spanish composer Joaquin Zamacois: "Curso de Formas Musicales" (this is only in Spanish I believe)

Well, surely there are more books, but I think these are good options for you to start. However, always with a grain of salt

u/krypton86 · 6 pointsr/Learnmusic

Who the hell told you counterpoint was easy to learn?

No, my friend, counterpoint is the pinnacle of composition. It's dreaded by every music major and even the theory/composition majors have a healthy fear of it.

I don't really know of any online source that can teach you what you need to know, either. Maybe some theory, but not counterpoint. You need to get a book and diligently work through the exercises. I recommend Study of Counterpoint: From Johann Joseph Fux's Gradus Ad Parnassum, Kennan's Counterpoint and Mann's The Study of Fugue for this. Check out both the Fux and the Kennan first and decide on one, then if you find that you want to go deeper go ahead and get the book on fugue study.

u/plaidofficial · 5 pointsr/Music

We have some musical training but have learnt mostly through trial and error. To strictly define counterpoint would be best left to a music academic ( but for us we often tend to layer melodic patterns with their own time signature, 3/4 and 4/4 is an easy example to try. There is an interplay between the time signatures and patterns that form because of this.

u/eaglesbecomevultures · 3 pointsr/classicalmusic

Sure! Here are a few that have helped me out:

The textbook that my school uses for beginning theory classes is The Complete Musician by Steven Laitz. It is a pretty comprehensive look at tonality, covering the very basics through 19th century theory. Isn't too pricey either:

Fux's Gradus ad Parnassum is a great place to begin working on counterpoint:

Samuel Adler's The Study of Orchestration is my current go to book when researching the basics of different instruments and orchestration techniques:

Lastly, once you feel you have developed a solid foundation with your theory knowledge, I can't stress enough the importance of studying/analyzing scores. It is (in my opinion) the best way of learning how to compose. One can learn so much from one score!

u/MDShimazu · 3 pointsr/musictheory

If you would like to end with Chopin, you only need to study tonal theory. So twelve tone topics are not of any use since that topic is 20th century, after tonality.

If you didn't do voice leading (SATB harmony): Are you interested in voice leading? If you want to get to the more advanced topics of tonal theory, you'll need to cover that. If so I would suggest this book:

Have you done species counterpoint? Species counterpoint will be very helpful in dealing with just about all music. I would recommend Fux's book:

If you've already done species counterpoint: For more advanced counterpoint (not useful for Chopin, but necessary for anything with fugues in it, obviously) I would suggest Mann's book:

For a complete discussion of forms I would suggest Berry's book:

For an in depth and modern discussion of sonata theory (remember that symphonies are also often times in sonata form), I would suggest Hepokoski's book:

If you already know species counterpoint and voice leading you can study Schenkarian Analysis. For this there's two books I would suggest:


If you're interested in composition, that's the other side of the coin and so all the above are of limited use. Let me know if you want books for composition.

u/I_luv_harpsichord · 3 pointsr/musictheory

I took an arranging course for my music degree and I really love the textbook they made us purchase. It's this!
I personally think it's very helpful. :) I know it's expensive, but I think the investment is worth it.

As for counterpoint, I like Joseph Fux! There was a textbook that I used, but unfortunately I don't remember it. (It's at home and I live at an off-campus apartment)

I hope this helps :) But if you want somethiing free there's this ....,_Nikolay%29

u/nastierlistener · 3 pointsr/classicalmusic

Try Theory of Harmony by Schoenberg and The Study of Counterpoint by Fux. If you don't mind reading somewhat dated texts these could work well.

u/r2metwo · 2 pointsr/composer

This is a classic counterpoint text (might be a little dry)

The Study of Counterpoint: From Johann Joseph Fux's Gradus Ad Parnassum

u/astrobeen · 2 pointsr/composer

Great job! Everything I wrote when I was 17 was shit, so congrats on being awesome!

Nice resolutions and voice leading! Try to avoid the parallel resolutions between the vln2 and cello that pop up from time to time. A good mental discipline is that every time a voice resolved to a root or a fifth of a harmony, make sure it’s contrary.

I’m not sure if you’ve been exposed to Fux Modal Counterpoint, but you should learn it and live by it if you want to compose in the Baroque, classical, or romantic idioms.

Best of luck!

u/zaccus · 2 pointsr/WeAreTheMusicMakers

Any melody can be accompanied by an almost endless number of chord changes, so there's no one "correct" way to do it.

The oldest way to do this is a technique called counterpoint. Long story short, you first write a bass part under your main melody, favoring contrary or oblique motion over parallel motion, and avoiding parallel 5ths and octaves as much as possible. The bass part should make sense as its own melody, ideally.

Then fill in a middle voice, again its own melody, observing the rules of counterpoint with respect to the other 2 melodies already written. When you're done with the 3rd voice, you have a basic chord progression.

You might want to repeat with a 4th melody or more after that, but you'll find that subsequent melodies are less interesting because your options are pretty narrow at that point. That's why alto parts tend to suck.

If this seems interesting to you at all, I highly recommend the classic Study of Counterpoint. It's been out for almost 300 years but it has a unique narrative-style approach and is a lot of fun to work through. Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, et. al. would have been familiar with it.

OTOH, if this seems like overkill, then just sit down with a piano or guitar, pick a key, start with something structured around I-IV-V-I or I-vi-ii-V-I or something, and go from there. Again, there's no one correct chord progression. Just find something that tastes good in your ears.

u/CRMannes · 2 pointsr/classicalmusic

Gradus ad Parnassum. Know it, love it, make it your friend.

u/Baron310 · 1 pointr/musictheory
u/byproxy · 1 pointr/WeAreTheMusicMakers

Try this. It's a funny little book. It's written as a dialogue between student and teacher.

u/DoctorWalnut · 1 pointr/musictheory

> Was it to simply introduce something more melodically interesting?

I can only assume so. The bass's independence is thematically necessary since it's where the opening motif is repeated. It gives meaning to the G-E-D-G-E-D line. If a line has structural/thematic significance, it should remain independent so the listener can pick it out.

I can't tell if the vocals or the instrumental was written first, sorry. Reading material on this subject would be any harmony/counterpoint book you can find. You seem pretty knowledgeable about those topics already though, so maybe it's just getting the style down. Books like [this] (,_Pyotr%29) and this. You may have read those already as they're pretty popular. If you haven't, you can most likely find them for free somewhere.

u/Ekvitarius · 1 pointr/Baroque

Ars nova has a really nice entry level text on their website if you’re just getting started. For a more complete introduction, check out the book “Music Theory ” by George Thaddeus Jones. That’s the one I started with, and while it’s very thorough in its discussion of musical concepts, its treatment of counterpoint is not my favorite. Something is definitely lost when the inner voices are treated as mere filler. Amazon and goodreads both gave it 4 stars. I feel like the ars nova text holds the readers hand a bit better and has the added bonus of being able to hear the examples. It also includes a chord progression game based on root movement principles). Though it’s missing some information here and there, so definitely check both texts out (yes, even though you probably understand some of their contents anyway) And of course, there’s the Gradus as Parnassum, the Bible of counterpoint that Bach praised and practically all subsequent composers learned from (though the rules presented there are über-strict!). It’s written as a dialogue between a student and a master which is absolutely brilliant.

If you’re looking to compose in the baroque style, there’s a good textbook called “Baroque Counterpoint ” by Peter Schubert and Christoph Niedhöfer, though the introduction says that you already need to know scales, figured base, 4-part voice leading, how to harmonize a melody, how to use non harmony tones, and some basic keyboard skills. It mostly (but not entirely) focuses on fugue and imitative counterpoint in general. So, it’s intended for the musically literate. Don’t go there until you’ve got a good framework to build on.

You also ought to have a collection of Bach’s chorales on hand as they are good examples for beginners to analyze and model on. Here’s 40 of them. Remember- analysis consists of more than just labeling chords; it involves INTERPRETING how all the different musical features contribute to the piece.

As a final note, remember- you don’t HAVE to fallow the rules all the time in your own music, but they’re still worth learning.

u/georgiapeanuts · 1 pointr/EDM

This book is one of the best for laying out the rules and reasoning as to how you build counterpuntal melodies, and build harmonies in musically sound way.

Things like avoiding parallel fifths etc.

u/heroides · 1 pointr/musictheory

I believe anyone studying counterpoint should read Johann Fux's Gradus ad Parnassum, nowadays published as two separate volumes translated and edited by Alfred Mann, namely The Study of Counterpoint and The Study of Fugue.

u/Greg_Willis · 1 pointr/composer

I would suggest this book to help with making baselines- Basically, you bass line must be in 'Counterpoint' with the melody, usually below the melody- If better voice leading would entail moving voices in the same octave- do it. It is all so that the melody remains principle.

u/amliebsten · 1 pointr/WeAreTheMusicMakers

I'm a composer by trade (now working toward a PhD in Composition) and I don't know one book that introduces composing well, or at all. I got started in high school, just writing little pieces for myself and friends to play. I just kept at it all these years, through college, grad school and now.

What I found helpful along the way was to learn and be the pro at music theory. After all, music theory is a bunch of rules formulated based on what other people people from long long before have written. One thing to work hard on is counterpoint. It's a step by step on how to write good lines, good secondary lines and basically gives you a very rough idea of what works and what doesn't work. Of course, this is based in the tonal tradition. This is my recommended book. It's written in the socratic style, so just beware. Otherwise, this is what people use in school today.

Again, orchestration is important if you want to write for acoustic instruments. See my comment below~

My advice would be to JUST START WRITING! If its bad, you will know it is and why it's bad. Sometimes, you need a little help. PM me if you want me to look at some things you've done.

u/demontaoist · -1 pointsr/musictheory

Aside from this, from performing arts high school, throughout Juilliard's theory program, and because conservatories are assholes about transferring, once again at Curtis, I've never even seen a music theory text book.

Staff paper. Examples from music literature. DIY practice/homework sheets. Save everyone $.