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Study of Counterpoint: From Johann Joseph Fux's Gradus Ad Parnassum Paperback – June 17, 1965


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Study of Counterpoint: From Johann Joseph Fux's Gradus Ad Parnassum + Fundamentals of Musical Composition + Principles of Orchestration (Dover Books on Music)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (June 17, 1965)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393002772
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393002775
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #30,902 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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See all 47 customer reviews
It is very easy to understand.
dark capps
At the very least, study 18th century and 20th century counterpoint, because those broad styles used Fux's treatise as their basic foundations.
Matthew Christian Dallman
I feel it is a must have for any serious student of music.
Patrick D. Goonan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Patrick D. Goonan on May 4, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is a great introduction to species counterpoint. It has been in use for many years and was studied by many great composers. It still engages the modern person today because it is concise, imaginative and teaches concepts in a digestible and easy to follow manner.

The form of the book is a relationship between a teacher and student. The student is not the brightest bulb on the tree, but the teacher shows him concept by concept how counterpoint works. This story format is entertaining, but also serves as a way to anchor concepts.

If you are looking for something that is a quick, easy read with lots of good content and historical interest, you will enjoy this. I feel it is a must have for any serious student of music.
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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Schlegel on July 15, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an indispensable work for anyone with a serious interest in musical composition. It lays out the entire foundation of tonal composition (i.e.: counterpoint) in a lucid, organized systematic manner.
The serious student of musical composition should have this book, work through it not once but regularly. I re-read it constantly and work through all the exercises again once or twice a year.
It should also be used in conjunction with "Structural Hearing Tonal Coherence in Music" by Felix Salzer (Schenker's protégé).
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41 of 44 people found the following review helpful By J. Mercik on January 12, 2004
Format: Paperback
The book has a nice pace. It is not a fat book. Content is presented succinctly. The platonic-type dialog is as charming as it is civilized and effective. There is something inspirational about reading a treatise previously studied by people like Bach, Haydn, Mozart, etc. I would say that even the most anti-traditional composer-person might benefit from the straightforward analytic of it all, even if one's harmonic sensibility differs from those presented in this text. All in all, a book to check out, if counterpoint intrigues you.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Christa on October 10, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book is written in the form of an imaginary dialogue between the author, who plays the part of a humble and eager student, and Palestrina. If you sit down and take the time to do the lessons, contrapunctual lines seem to write themselves for you. Useful for many styles of music, it really helped me write better bass lines and voice leading in general. Self-taught musicians! Don't be afraid of studying theory! This is a great book!
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 9, 2003
Format: Paperback
I recently started studying composition, and this book has been immensely helpful! My composition teacher uses the same method of graduated study of starting with one note against one note and then building in complexity to four-part counterpoint. After a lesson, it's useful to read the corresponding section in the book as a refresher before doing my assigned exercises. Plus, it gives me a second explanation about the do's and don't of part writing if I didn't quite catch it in my all-too-brief lesson time. Finally, it's a great way to make sure I don't lose my proficiency over vacation; there's plenty of examples for me to work on in my spare time. After finding this book, I'm surprised it's not on my required booklist! It's a definite must for all serious composers who want to develop a strong classical training. (Let's not forget the value of classical education! Most professional artists that I've talked to, in any field, have told me that it's the best way to begin.)
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 22, 1998
Format: Paperback
This book, originally entitled "Gradus ad Parnassum" was the book used by many of the great composers of the classical and romantic eras in learning their craft. Mozart is said to have studied it. Papa Haydn's copy, dog-eared and worn, is on display in a museum in Europe. The book is set up as a series of lessons on the technique of counterpoint, with the student asking questions and the teacher providing answers. There are many examples, both of proper and improper technique. It starts with the easiest forms of counterpoint and moves into the more difficult ones toward the end. It takes itself very seriously and requires a lot of work of the reader. Some of the ideas are outdated, and all of the counterpoint examples are built on bland cantus firmus type melodies, but the exercise of going through this book is invaluable.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Christian Dallman on October 16, 2001
Format: Paperback
[reprint -- sorry]
At one point in the text, Aloysius pretty much says it all: "These lessons are not worked out for actual use but for exercise. If one know how to read one need no longer bother with spelling; similarly, the species of counterpoint are given only for purposes of study."
I have been working out of this book (which is really an excerpt of a larger book called _Steps to Perfection_) with a private tutor for a year, and it has been a difficult but rewarding experience. Essentially, the species provide a platform to learn how to compose concurrent melodic lines. Each following species builds upon the knowledge of the previous. Rules that begin absolute slowly become contextual. While the book's original title is anachronistic, the program within encourages steps towards the understanding of basic tonal principles that have formed the foundation of the grand tradition of western music.
I'd recommend keeping an open mind about the rules. These are treated as the "rules," but are expected to be broken with time and experience. After all, the rules are no more than the collected general tendancies of the great composers.
Another thing to keep in mind is that Fux's book provides an introduction to composition based upon the limitations--and, accordingly, the beauty--of the human voice. This book does not deal with the embellishments and ornaments possible on all instruments.
More caveats: One, I would recommend studying this book with an experienced teacher. It's like a beginning yoga text: basic, but someone with experience will put things in perspective. Two, the exercises, especially for three and four voices, are difficult and require commitment and discipline. (Again, like yoga.) There is no need to rush through the exercises.
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