II. Counterpoint and Galant Schemas
Kris Shaffer and Mark Gotham
The fifth species of primarily involves combining the tricks we’ve learned so far along with a little decoration into something that starts to resemble real music! Specifically:
- Elements from all previous species combine such that the counterpoint line may include motion in whole notes (1st species), half notes (2nd), quarter notes (3rd), and suspensions (4th) in almost any combination and order.
- New to the 5th species are:
- certain embellishments such as notes of which …
- may include 8th note motion for the first time (not seen in species 1–4).
In fifth-species counterpoint, we combine the tricks developed in species 1–4 with only a few additions. As such, the fifth species starts to resemble real music in a way that none of the previous species did, and the challenge is to balance not only types of consonance but also types of counterpoint.
Beginning and Ending
Once again, fifth-species counterpoint observes the now-familiar practice of handling of perfect consonances and reduced motion in the first and last measures. Begin with a and end with a .
While are a fourth-species consideration, in fifth-species counterpoint we add the option of decorating those suspensions with some common embellishments. illustrates the main types, set out on a single chain of 7-6 suspensions.
Note that if you simplify the line by sustaining the first note of the measure for a half note, you get right back to unembellished fourth-species suspensions.
Note too that the last of the suspension embellishments in introduces eighth-note motion for the first time. Fux introduces embellished suspensions and eighth-note motion “in between” fourth and fifth species. Apart from this “ with ” embellishment of a suspension, Fux also introduces the possibility of a pair of eighth notes. In all cases, these eighth notes come in pairs, and they occur on weak beats (filling the second or fourth quarter note of the measure).
Gradus ad Parnassum Examples
Gradus ad Parnassum Exercises.gives the complete examples of fifth-species counterpoint from Part I of Gradus ad Parnassum, annotated (as before) with the interval that the counterpoint line makes with the cantus firmus. For the complete examples from Gradus ad Parnassum as exercises, solutions, and annotations, see
- For the complete set of Fux exercises, see the Gradus ad Parnassum chapter.
- Suspensions_Chain © Mark Gotham
A traditional approach to composition pedagogy focused on counterpoint as a way of learning to think of music horizontally (melodically) and vertically (harmonically) simultaneously. Consists of five “species,” each of which focuses on a single compositional element.
A two-note embellishing tone gesture in which a chord tone is heard early as a non-chord tone.
Perfect octaves (twelve semitones), perfect unisons (zero semitones), and perfect fifths (seven semitones). Perfect fourths (five semitones) are sometimes considered a perfect consonance, sometimes a dissonance; this depends on the context.
A contrapuntal cadence in which a perfect octave or unison is approached through contrary motion by step. One line will have re–do (2̂– 1̂) while the other has ti–do (7̂-1̂). This results in the sequence of harmonic intervals sixth–octave, tenth–octave, or third–unison.
An embellishing tone that is approached via static note and left by step down. The suspension is on a strong part of the beat.
An embellishment that indicates to decorate a note with its upper and lower neighbor, in that order. (The opposite order would be an "inverted" turn.) For example, a turn on C would be performed C–D–C–B–C. This embellishment is a specific kind of double neighbor.
A type of motion where a chord tone moves by step to another tone, then resolves by step in the same direction. For example, C–D–E above a C major chord would be an example of neighboring motion, in which D can be described as a passing tone. Entire harmonies may be said to be passing when embellishing another harmony, when the voice-leading between the two chords involves mainly passing tones (as in the passing 6/4 chord).