New Admin in town!

May 10, 2019

The mathematician Daniel Bump, who started this group over seven years ago, has made me an admin of it.  I have been active in this group for over four years now, as a composer, arranger, and, increasingly importantly to me and others, a sharer of my many decades of experience with and knowledge of traditional counterpoint and contrapuntal music, both in tutorials and analyses published here (see “Tutorials” set in my profile) and score comments (often requested, and usually appreciated).

Dan has (understandably) not had time to follow and supervise this group over the last few years.  I hope to monitor and maintain the discussion board, e.g., removing posts that are inappropriate (e.g., “please look at my work”, which can be achieved just by posting the work), spam, and widely-cross-posted work that bears no particular relevance to the group topic, and in so doing maximize the usefulness of the discussion board as  a resource.

I have viewed this group as a place where people can post, as Dan says, works by masters of counterpoint such as Bach and Palestrina (although if the scores have errors and the person posting is not responsive to notice of them….), and your own contrapuntal compositions, as he said, even unfinished works, if you want comments by other musicians.   If your works are mind-bogglingly terrific, they will speak for themselves.  Otherwise, expect reactions by others of both great and little knowledge and experience.  This is not an arena to collect applause, but, hopefully, a place to  share and learn.

Counterpoint is not a “style” or “genre” like Reggae, Celtic Ballads, or Bebop Jazz (but even those have their parameters, means, and corpora), or even “Baroque”, but a discipline about which great books and papers and courses have been  and continue to be written (and I hope to maintain useful bibliographies and linkaries) and in which, although models  and parameters vary over the last 500 years, (at any era) there are very definite “rules” and “right and wrong”, just as with the grammar of a language, the rules of artistic perspective, or classical rhetoric. Any work with more than one voice (and even some in one voice!) exhibits  counterpoint, whether you intended it or not, which can thus be good or bad in reference the stylistic models of any era.  “Hey, I used some counterpoint!” (as in several early Beatles songs) is not so interesting.

Fugue is an extraordinarily complicated business, with a vast literature, and an exercise traditionally undertaken only by those who have achieved significant skill in counterpoint.  I will not say more about it right now.

There are (and hopefully will be) a number of regulars here with enough knowledge of, and skill in, this area to teach a course, including some who actually do (although employed teachers, performers, and scholars rarely have the time for this).  We are a resource for those who wish to learn and have their efforts analyzed and commented on.   For those not eager for honest commentary, just write, “No comments, please!” on your scores.   This is not a venue for unconditional, assured applause (either for compositions, presentations of scores of repertoire, or arrangements) or emotional support. This is a score-posting group, not a social media chat room.   Posts to the discussion board, including questions, should be considered by you with the question, “Will this be useful to others wishing to know more about counterpoint?”  Inappropriate posts will be removed.

I hope that this group and forum will continue to be, and more and more become, a showcase of quality contrapuntal compositions by masters old and new, and resources and texts old and new, as well as a place where those eager to learn more about counterpoint will feel both welcome and able to do so.

Bernard Greenberg (@BSG) 10 May 2019