Counterpoint is the technique of writing independent melodic lines that work together to create effective music. This linear perspective has influenced some of the most popular songs and artists in the 20th century, including the music of the Beatles, Beach Boys, Pink Floyd, David Bowie, and many other contemporary artistseven in the sampling techniques of hip-hop and techno. The study of Counterpoint is essential knowledge for songwriters, composers, and musicians who want to strengthen their compositional skills.
Berkleemusic's Counterpoint course explores the mechanics of basic contrapuntal technique, focusing on the horizontal aspects of composition; in other words, how melodies interact with one another. The course begins with writing a simple melodic line that works with an existing melody. You will then learn to add complexity to your melodic lines using thicker textures and the concepts of consonance and dissonance. You will study motivic manipulations of sequence, inversion, retrograde, and other variations. The course also explores various canonic techniques, including simple, mirror, crab, and mensuration canons.
This course uses musical examples from the Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and 20th century periods, in addition to relevant examples from contemporary popular artists and styles. You'll have access to a timeline from which you can see the chronological and geographical placement of musical examples as you listen to them. Throughout the course, you will strengthen your music listening, reading, and writing skills through hands-on writing activities. The goal of the course is to give you a broad overview of counterpoint and improve your compositional skills, regardless of stylistic preference.
By the end of this course, you will be able to:
identify and compose music using various contrapuntal techniques
differentiate and apply counterpoint ratios, including 1:1, 2:1, 3:1, 4:1, suspensions, and consonant syncopations
identify stylistic uses of consonance and dissonance in diverse style periods
manipulate and apply motives, using sequence, inversion, retrograde, and other variations
write canons, including simple, accompanied, at intervals other than the octave, crab, and mensuration canons