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Counterpoint: The Polyphonic Vocal Style of the Sixteenth Century (Dover Books on Music) Paperback – March 27, 1992


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Counterpoint: The Polyphonic Vocal Style of the Sixteenth Century (Dover Books on Music) + Study of Counterpoint: From Johann Joseph Fux's Gradus Ad Parnassum + The Study of Fugue (Dover Books on Music)
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Product Details

  • Series: Dover Books on Music
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; New edition edition (March 27, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 048627036X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486270364
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #242,386 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English
Original Language: Danish

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
5 star
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4 star
22%
3 star
6%
2 star
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See all 18 customer reviews
If your looking for a great book for 18th century counterpoint.
Ryan Peplinski
There are many Dover editions of books and music in my library and every one of them has served me durably and well.
Craig Matteson
This is an excellent book for those who wish to learn counterpoint.
K. Jean

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Craig Matteson HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on December 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
I am delighted that this classic work is back in print and available in such an affordable and durable edition from Dover. There are many Dover editions of books and music in my library and every one of them has served me durably and well. You can buy this book more inexpensively through Amazon.com than I did it thirty years ago (it was $17.95 at Borders when it was on State St.).

Why is this book so important? Because it not only teaches species counterpoint in a way contemporary students can understand - focusing on the Palestrina style of the 16th century, it also provides a survey of the ways counterpoint has evolved from the ninth through the nineteenth centuries. There are also good exercises for students to work out. Now, Jeppesen has been criticized because Palestrina purists have noted some ways in which Jeppesen talks about the Palestrina style do not exactly match up with the master's works. Well, la de da. The fact is a style is a generalization, not a model that accounts for all practice.

If you were going to read only one book on counterpoint, and wanted one you could understand and get the most from, this is it. There are many others I would recommend strongly (including the Schenker book - but for other reasons), but this is a fabulous book of pedagogy and deserves to be read by every serious student of music.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By K. Jean on August 23, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent book for those who wish to learn counterpoint. It provides a history of counterpoint and uses the species approach of counterpoint which is in my opinion the best way to get a comprehensive step by step, thorough grasp on the concepts of counterpoint. It is focused on counterpoint of the 16th century as the title indicates and is very similiar to Fuxs but is more in depth. Jeppesen explains about melody (particularly the practices of Palestrina) and writing without the cantus firmus using tequniques such as imitation dimmunition and augmentation of a melody. Definately a "must have" for those interested in counterpoint.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Phil Maris on January 14, 2005
Format: Paperback
First of all, skip any of those counterpoint books that push that Schenkeian drivel on you. Jeppesen's book is pure and straighforward- no baloney!

There are so many superior features to this book that it's difficult to choose what to mention, so I'll just begin with the fact that you do NOT get flooded with more examples than you can possibly make use of. Jeppesen gives you exactly what you need, and streamlines his information to that which will teach you the 16th century style. He begins with a solid background in the history of music theory since the Middle Ages, which helps to understand not only the technical tools the 16th century style, but also the aesthetic objectives. How he breaks down the building of the melodic lines and the combining of the parts is surprisingly complete, considering the small size of this book. The language is quite dense, though, so it will take a few reads to reap the most benefits from this book. But it's more than worth the extra time!

I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to learn 16th century counterpoint, and not spend time going around in circles with a lot of self-serving verbiage.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Hexagram of the Heavens on October 31, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This has been one of my favorite books for 30 years. It may be that Peter Schubert's book is more practical for the beginning counterpoint student. But I love Jeppesen.

The standard text of the 18th century, used and endorsed by Bach, Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven, was J. J. Fux's 1725 book "Gradus ad Parnassum", available in English as "The Study of Counterpoint." Fux's book is in the archaic "dialogue of teacher and pupil" style, and it's a tough read. Not that Jeppesen's easy... but Jeppesen was, 80 years ago, the authoritative update to Fux, with a better historical perspective (although there are some modern scholars with different ideas) and remains a very practical book. (Acknowledged: you must read C-clef, or be willing to learn. It's not rocket science.)

Why study 16th c. counterpoint? It's a very clear, classic style. Bach's counterpoint style is a difficult starting place for someone who wants to learn this art, but AFTER reading Jeppesen, it becomes apparent what some of Bach's operating principles were that evolved from the earlier style. In fact, the whole development of western harmony up through jazz is easier to understand once you have read and understood Jeppesen - and let me also mention that the historical overview with which he opens the book is worth the price of the book by itself.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 18, 1999
Format: Paperback
I am a music student at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada. I am currently reading, Counterpoint by Knudd Jeppesen. I feel that Counterpoint is a must read for any serious music student. I am currently at page 20 with 15 pages of hand made notes. The historical facets of this book alone are amazing. Also the ease at which one is able to read Counterpoint is very pleasing. I strongly urge any theory/composition major to read Jeppesen 's book "Counterpoint."
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Chris Sahar on March 19, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I disagree this book's use is limited to 16th century counterpoint. The only case I would agree is a student new to counterpoint who jumps right to the exercises in species counterpoint.

In reality, 16th century counterpoint is the gateway to understanding 18th century and even more modern usage of it as you learn an excellent standard to compare later developments. Also, the exercises in writing imitation, invertible counterpoint are great. And yes the essay on its development thru the 19th century is fantastic.

Now I will not say this is the most comprehensive - for that there is a French tome published in the early 20th centurey which is encyclopedic. The name slips my memory.

But for compactness and depth of its topic and providing its context as well as the great exercises, Jeppesen's will be a book you will always return to. That is rare for textbooks.

I'd say this book is especially good for music composers and song writers (yes pop ones too). The author spends much time discussing melodic writing in addition to contrapuntal writing.

Finally the presentation is far more in line with modern readers' experience, the old presentation of question and answer and deduction may have its merits but I agree it is a tough way to present a new topic to someone. Start with this, then go to Fux and studies of scores (yes Counterpoint and Compositions is a good text when shown by a teacher how to employ the methods, otherwise it can be limiting in its impact upon learning).

In sum, for the serious music student this should be one of the 10 - 20 essential texts in your library. For music lovers steeped deeply in Medieval and Renassaince music and some understanding of music theory, this would enhanace your appreciation of the craft and the music - and hey you may find yourself writing some great liturgical music for your choir in the end!
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Counterpoint: The Polyphonic Vocal Style of the Sixteenth Century (Dover Books on Music)
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