Species in Counterpoint: A Deep Pedagogical View


Species in Counterpoint:

A Deep Pedagogical View

For the piano teachers at WKMT, the study of the five species of Counterpoint is an absolute must. Maestra Gisela Paterno is in charge of delivering the lessons for them with the firm purpose to enrich the lessons of all the piano students at the studio. Why?



Let us start with the definition of Counterpoint: It is the study of the voice leading. What is voice leading?


Is the technique that focuses on how all the melodies of a piece behaves and intertwines, regardless if they have the function of foreground (main melodies) or background (accompaniment) expressed by different textures that be range from melody and accompaniment to chordal or polyphonic; these are the "fabric" of the music.


For piano tutors, it is fundamental to know this technique. It facilitates the understanding of how the melodic patterns mesh with each other, spot the structural notes versus the ornamental ones, and comprehend the musical discourse.


The species of Counterpoint are structured pedagogically in five species that relate to each other, adding layers of rhythmic complexity.


We start with one note against one note. 

This first species can be seen as "easy", but nothing can be more distant from the truth. This species is the foundation upon which the rest of the species will lay upon.  

The second species introduces dissonance, that is to say, instability in the discourse.

The third one teaches the melodic patterns and several ways of ornamentation.

 The fourth takes care of suspensions: how to manage dissonances without clashing with each other.

 And finally, the fifth one is the one in charge of combining all the previous species into an organic whole: it is by far the most difficult but, at the same time, the most rewarding.


Everyone should study this technique that has been around since Renaissance times!


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