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

The most celebrated book on counterpoint is Fux's great theoretical work Gradus ad Parnassum. Since its appearance in 1725, it has been used by and has directly influenced the work of many of the greatest composers. J. S. Bach held it in high esteem, Leopold Mozart trained his famous son from its pages, Haydn worked out every lesson with meticulous care, and Beethoven...

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The Most Important Book on Theory You Will Ever Read! featured

Comments I've tried at least 4 other books on theory that made the subject seem boring, dry and painful. If you need the shortest, most concise book on theory in existence look no further. It was originally written for Emperor Charles VI in 1725, but if it was published today it could very well be called "Counterpoint For Dummies". It was used by Beethoven, Mozart and many others. Need I say more?

It simplifies counterpoint into a handful of rules, and types of motion. If you learn your intervals and a few types of motion such as opposing motion, parallel motion, and oblique motion, you can get started on writing songs with greater ease. These rules are applicable to classical and baroque just as they are to rock. When you are learning new material, writing, or analyzing music; you will notice that the patterns he mentions are everywhere.

The concepts are simple, so it's up to you to put the knowledge to use. Just knowing it is not enough to appreciate it. You can get passed writers block more easily. I use a technique called "writing blind" where I write according to the rules outlined in this book. I often come up with great ideas and occasionally it's dribble, but musically correct dribble. I got the courage to write classical pieces and transcribe songs by ear, and even writing varitations on my favorite band's songs.

We've come a long way since then with art forms like jazz which are more melodically complex. The expanded dynamic range of the distorted guitar doesn't always work well with certain intervals, but a bass and a guitar could accomidate it better. It works great with orchestaras, accousic instruments, piano and especially harpsichord. It has its strengths and limitations, but it's up to you to apply it the way you see fit. You're better with it than without it.

Like anything else it requires work. But, if there's a better, faster, more concise way of learning counter-point, this is it!

Liked about it +Easy to learn

Didn't like +Has limitations when it comes to later art forms like Jazz
+Needs special consideration for instruments with expanded dynamic range (distorted guitars, etc.)
+This book isn't known to modern day musicians as it should be

Overall satisfaction:

By psychokannibal
Mar 30, 2011
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