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Topic: A question about counterpoint  (Read 1350 times)

Offline f flat minor

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A question about counterpoint
on: April 22, 2022, 06:47:38 AM
All schools regarding counterpoint tell you that you cannot use parallel fifths or octaves (the matter here however, is just octaves) in pieces involving the same (counterpoint). And chunks of the pedal part of organ works when adapted for the piano, are rewritten in octaves, in most cases (see Busoni or Stradal transcriptions of Bach's organ works, for instance), so consider transcribing a Bach fugue, originally written for the organ, for piano (one similar to those of whom I mentioned above), if you were to rewrite voices played using pedalling (involved in counterpoint, mind you, this is a fugue) for the piano, and end up writing in octaves, do you break the rule?
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Offline lelle

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Re: A question about counterpoint
Reply #1 on: April 22, 2022, 10:43:31 AM
Good question! I think the answer is - it depends, but I'd say no.

The voice leading rule is at it's core about not having paralells between independent voices. The octaves in these transcriptions can be considered the representation of one independent voice (the added octave is a color to imitate the big sound of the pedals, rather than an independent vocie) so they do not break the rule. On the organ, you can pull out stops that make the actual sound produced when pressing one key be doubled with an octave. This was available to Bach, and yet doing this doesn't break any rules because each independent voice still follows the proper voice leading rules, even if some of them happen to be doubled in octaves by the configuration of the organ.

Consider the following example to see what I mean:



There is an error in voice leading here, but its not the octaves, assuming you consider them one voice that is colored, but rather between the octaves and another voice. Can you spot it?

When it comes to Bach, as far as I know he never wrote out any voices doubled in octaves in his keyboard compositions. I'm not familiar enough with his multi-instrumental music to know if he ever doubled certain voices with different instruments. In his keyboard music, whenever there are multiple notes sounding at the same times, such as a sequence of chords or what have you, he always treats each note as an individual voice that gets treated accordingly with correct voice leading.

It's funny, because the French baroque composer Rameau did use paralell octaves sometimes in his harpsichord music and he basically writes that he does it "because it sounds good bro".

Offline f flat minor

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Re: A question about counterpoint
Reply #2 on: April 23, 2022, 11:46:31 AM
I recognise the error, there is a B-F between the octaves and the top voice, which is a fifth. There is also an octave between voices in the second bar. So, I get the essence of what you say- the octaves may be terminal but not between 2 independent voices, am I right? Thank you for replying by the way.

Offline lelle

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Re: A question about counterpoint
Reply #3 on: April 23, 2022, 01:14:38 PM
I recognise the error, there is a B-F between the octaves and the top voice, which is a fifth.

Hmm, I'm not sure I understood your answer correctly. Creating a fifth, or even a diminished fifth, between two voices is not an error. The error is having two voices moving together so that you make up two or more fifths in a row, i e you get paralell fifths. (see the images I attached further down below)

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There is also an octave between voices in the second bar.

Likewise, it's totally allowed to have one octave created between two voices, it's just not allowed to have two independent voices move together so that you get many octaves in a row.

Here's another example with one version that is allowed and one with errors. The upper one is allowed. Notice that there is a fifth and an octave present between the voices, but no paralells, so these octaves and fifths are perfectly allowed. In the lower example, there is a paralell fifth and a paralell octave, which is not allowed.




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So, I get the essence of what you say- the octaves may be terminal but not between 2 independent voices, am I right? Thank you for replying by the way.

If I understood you correctly, it's the other way around. Paralell octaves are not allowed between two independent voices.

Here is the voice leading error in my first example. Both the top voice and the bottom voice move up from G to C, so you get a paralell octave:

Offline f flat minor

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Re: A question about counterpoint
Reply #4 on: April 23, 2022, 01:35:32 PM
I see, thank you

Offline f flat minor

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Re: A question about counterpoint
Reply #5 on: April 23, 2022, 01:46:21 PM
But is it fine if fifths or octaves between two voices are repeated?

Offline lelle

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Re: A question about counterpoint
Reply #6 on: April 23, 2022, 02:46:44 PM
But is it fine if fifths or octaves between two voices are repeated

Like if you repeat the same fifth, G-D G-D? I had to look it up but it seems like it's allowed, see here: https://www.schoolofcomposition.com/whats-wrong-with-parallel-fifths/

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Is it a parallel fifth if I repeat the same fifth? No, parallel fifth occur only with different perfect fifths. The same perfect fifth (or perfect octave) repeated is not considered a parallel because no change in harmony occurs.

Offline f flat minor

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Re: A question about counterpoint
Reply #7 on: April 23, 2022, 03:04:25 PM
Once again, thank you so much
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