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SPECIES COUNTERPOINT DOS AND DONTS

In partial fulfillment for Strict Counterpoint class 2015-2016

Specie

Dos

1st specie

Contrary and oblique motion should be employed


as often as possible.
More imperfect than perfect consonances should be
employed.

Enter a perfect consonance (an


octave, unison, or fifth) by mean of
direct motion.

2nd specie

The first half-note in each bar must be consonant


with the cantus firmus.
The second half-note in a bar may be dissonant, but
only if it is approached and left by a step.
Use an interval of 5, 6, or 8 as a closing formula if
the cantus firmus is above; and an interval of 5, 3,
or 1 if the cantus firmus is below.

Use fifths or octaves on the


downbeat of successive measures if
the intervening note leaps by an
interval of a third or less.
Use two successive fifths or octaves
if they are intervened only by a skip
of a third.

3rd specie

The first note of each bar must be consonant with


the cantus firmus.
Use either a cambiata formula, 8, 7, 5, 6, 8; or with
a scale run, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 as closing formulas if the
cantus firmus is below and close as 3m, 5, 4, 3m, 1
if the cantus firmus is above.

Make the second, third, or fourth


notes dissonant. (Except if they are
step-wise passing notes between
two consonant notes.

4th specie

Use consonance on the second half-notes in each


bar.
Resolve by a downward stepwise movement if the
preceding note is dissonant.
Separate the half-notes as in second species if no
ligature is possible. Return to ligature as soon as
possible.

Use dissonant ligatures resolving to


an octave or a unison in successive
bars.

Take care to write a singable melodic line.


Make use of oblique motion and syncopation.
Use an interval of 7, (tied to the previous bar), 6, 8
when closing if the cantus firmus is below; and 2
(tied to the previous bar), 3m, 1 if the cantus firmus
is above.

Use two eight-notes on the first and


third beats of a measure.

(Whole note against each note.)

(Two half-notes against each


whole note.)

(Four quarter notes against a


whole note.)

(Two half-notes against a whole


note; the first of which must
occur on the up beat, the second
on the downbeat.)

5th specie
(Also called florid, consists of
the combination of the first four
species.)

Don'ts