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Counterpoint: Based on Eighteenth-Century Practice 3rd Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0131842359
ISBN-10: 0131842358
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

This volume teaches counterpoint through analysis of contrapuntal elements in music and writing of the Baroque period.

From the Back Cover

Designed for courses in Music, this established text introduces the contrapuntal style of 17th and 18th century music through analysis and writing. While a limited understanding of contrapuntal elements may be gained through analysis alone, these elements are grasped in a more intimate way through the actual writing of contrapuntal examples. Also, by linking the study of counterpoint to music of a specific period, the text provides a clear model for students to emulate and a definite basis for the criticism of student work. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall College Div; 3rd edition (January 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0131842358
  • ISBN-13: 978-0131842359
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #993,175 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
George Oldroyd's book The Technique and Spirit of Fugue is the best book on fugue composition but it's out of print and VERY expensive. So, by default, Kent Kennan's book is the best reference book a composer can buy for a basic overview of counterpoint. If you already have a year or two of music theory (you know about modulations, sonata forms, and basic part-writing) you can,literally, just start working from this book with Bach as a companion text and start teaching yourself how to write fugues.

Kennan's book is helpful because while mostly covering Baroque counterpoint he covers the topic in a way that lets a student expand on the contrapuntal principles into other styles. If you're going to get just one book on counterpoint make this the book.
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Format: Hardcover
Having taught counterpoint for about twenty years, I can honestly say this is still the best textbook available on the subject. Along the way I tried a number of "newer" texts, but my classes always met with more success using Kennan. The workbook that accompanies this book is a must for anyone who wants to master the art of eighteenth-century counterpoint. To be honest, you also need a teacher to evaluate your progress.
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Format: Hardcover
This was my main textbook for my first tonal counterpoint course, and is probably the one I still refer to most - clearly explains contrapuntal rules in composition, starting from basic polyphony to four-voice fugal writing. The emphasis is on tonal counterpoint, rather than specie counterpoint, and most of the examples cite Bach works, though Kennan provides a variety of them, for the student to have as reference. I remember his tonal and structural outlines of a fugue's organization and explanation of tonal and exact answers to be especially helpful.

Also recommended: the Counterpoint exercise book by Kennan, which I found particularly useful, the two counterpoint books by Gauldin, and for historical significance, Fux's Study of Counterpoint.
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Format: Hardcover
The first musical example for Chapter 3 should be an excerpt from Bach's Two-Part Invention, No.11. It is not, as the reader will quickly discover when the text talks about a "lower voice" that simply doesn't exist! This is not a huge problem, since the correct measures are shown soon after (in Example 5). But it could be confusing at first.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book covers counterpoint in the style of Johann Sebastian Bach. If you want to learn how to write polyphonic pieces in this style of music, this is the book. Important: It does not cover the strict vocal 17th - century - counterpoint. That style is better learned through J.J.Fux: Gradus ad Parnassum. Study of Counterpoint: From Johann Joseph Fux's Gradus Ad Parnassum
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've used the Kennan book many times; only 2 years ago I used another book and I lived to regret doing so! The Kennan is easily the finest counterpoint text on the market.

My big mistake was to purchase a "used" workbook....dumb, dumb, dumb! Next time I teach Counterpoint at SMU I'll get a NEW workbook!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love this book. I bought it after having borrowed a copy from a fellow composer. I finally decided to give him his original copy back and purchase my own. This book is well-written, easy to follow, and thorough. There are a lot of other great Counterpoint books out there, but this one provides examples and explanations that are really friendly to students of all abilities.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The used copy I ordered had some existing notes (and not just the musical kind, either!) in it, but I don't mind. Part of the fun of used textbooks, for me, is seeing what others took from the text and/or the class in which they used it, especially when I'm buying it for my own self-education, rather than a class.

On the subject of the text, itself, I've been immensely impressed, so far. Kennan's writing is clear and concise, with the exception of some rare occasions where he cited something as (presumably stylistically) inappropriate writing, seemingly out of the blue. In those moments, I often found myself coming to a screeching halt in my studies and asking, "Wait, why not?" Then again, when I reached those points on a second, slower read-through of the text, I don't remember having the same sense of confusion, so your mileage may vary.
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