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Thread: First Claim: Harmony and Counterpoint Constrain One Another

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    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Torkelburger View Post
    If that's the case, then it should be no problem for you at all to compose say, a double period or so of piano music equally as good or even better than Beethoven Sonatas 14, 17, 21, 23, 29.
    But what would be the point? You could also compose a 12-tone piece which consisted of all fifths.

    Since the composition is automatic and the music composes itself, this should take you a matter of minutes. Post your composition that proves your theory to the world one hour from now and let us be the judge.
    Okay! How about over on the composer's thread? Would that work? (inside joke for Taggart)

    No, you're missing the point. What I've said is true, and simply repeats what the book said (albeit more abrasively): CP harmony is a fairly straightforward process because it is enabled by the diatonic scale and the triads laid out on its scale degrees.

    I.e., if the harmonic scaffolding is there, any conjunct melodies or counterpoint are fairly easy to construct.

    Thus, the thread title: "Harmony and Counterpoint Constrain (or enable) One Another."

    This thread isn't about ME, or if I can write music "better than Beethoven."

    This observation concerns the basics mechanics of the diatonic system, not "The Art of Beethoven."

    Besides that, Beethoven was getting much more harmonically complex than the basic points I've covered.

    Your post seems unconcerned with the ideas presented here, and more concerned with 'controlling' and 'challenging' and 'confronting.' It's all too psychological for me.
    Last edited by millionrainbows; May-28-2020 at 17:01.

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    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil loves classical View Post
    I don't get the claim that harmony and counterpoint constrain each other, based on that quote in the original post.
    I think if you re-read the thread, and keep following the premise, the extreme simplicity of the idea will finally strike you.

    The conclusion reached by Dmitri is that you can write counterpoint within unchanging harmony, but that doesn't pose a limitation on the harmony that can be reached with counterpoint.
    That would depend on what notes your counterpoint defines as its harmonic scaffolding, wouldn't it? If the notes you use make up a scale of five or more notes, then yes, almost anything is possible, depending on how large you can tolerate your melodic leaps (i.e. voice leading).

    If you want conjunct melodies, then larger spacing begins to prohibit this.

    It looks like we'd better present some definitions: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steps_and_skips

    Conjunct: In music, a step, or conjunct motion, is the difference in pitch between two consecutive notes of a musical scale. In other words, it is the interval between two consecutive scale degrees. Any larger interval is called a skip (also called a leap), or disjunct motion.

    Melodic motion in which the interval between any two consecutive pitches is no more than a step, or, less strictly, where skips are rare, is called stepwise or conjunct melodic motion, as opposed to skipwise or disjunct melodic motion, characterized by frequent skips.

    I'll make a counter claim that there are unlimited possibilities in harmony that can be reached with counterpoint.
    But why make such a counterclaim? All this exposition is doing is explaining the nature of tonality, and its harmony and melodic aspects, and how they affect each other reciprocally. What is there to challenge?

    Anyway, to say "there are unlimited possibilities in harmony that can be reached with counterpoint" is fraught with inconsistency.
    Tonality is not about "unlimited possibilities," is it? It's about how you divide up the octave. If your counterpoint consists of scale notes, then that's your harmony.

    You only have 12 notes; what does "unlimited" mean? Dodecaphony? Now we are out of the realm of tonal harmony.
    But, yes, the "clusters" in the example are a form of harmony which generates melodic lines (counterpoint) which "burble and bubble" within a limited range of a chromatic cluster. Or you could say it's the counterpoint that's creating the clusters. It's a "chicken or egg" problem.
    Last edited by millionrainbows; May-28-2020 at 17:21.

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    Senior Member Torkelburger's Avatar
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    I don't care how easy it is to compose a melody in the diatonic system. That has nothing to do with how good a piece is or how hard it was to compose. Beethoven's fifth symphony entire first movement is based more on extremely simple motifs than any "melody" and it is one of the greatest pieces in the history of music. It's what you do with it that matters. There's more to composition than just connecting dots and painting by numbers. That's not what composition is.

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    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Torkelburger View Post
    I don't care how easy it is to compose a melody in the diatonic system. That has nothing to do with how good a piece is or how hard it was to compose.
    Okay, I agree, but that's not the point of this thread, and I don't think this thread "contradicts" what you are saying. All it is saying is that the diatonic system facilitates the construction of conjunct melodies.

    Beethoven's fifth symphony entire first movement is based more on extremely simple motifs than any "melody" and it is one of the greatest pieces in the history of music. It's what you do with it that matters. There's more to composition than just connecting dots and painting by numbers. That's not what composition is.
    I don't disagree with that. But the purpose of this thread is not to make value judgements, or to present ideas which contradict that. It's a simple exposition about the nature of tonality.
    Last edited by millionrainbows; May-28-2020 at 17:26.

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    Senior Member Torkelburger's Avatar
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    That's the nature of all music, though. Atonality is not any different. Someone could just as easily say that 12-tone music is a self-fulfilling system which is automatic in nature, a no-brainer for composers (and that the chromatic scale divides the octave evenly) and that 12-tone music composes itself. All you have to do is follow the row and plug in the numbers for melodies and harmonies. The row tells you what notes to write. It’s a paint by numbers system.

    Would they be correct? Wouldn’t Schoenberg, Berg, Webern, Boulez, Babbitt, Sessions, Stravinsky et al 12-tone music all sound the same then?

    Does Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven sound the same? If the music composed itself and is automatic (meaning the composer has no control) then it would, but it doesn’t.

    Same goes for composing with pitch-class sets or most any other post tonal technique.

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    Senior Member Torkelburger's Avatar
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    CP harmony is a fairly straightforward process because it is enabled by the diatonic scale and the triads laid out on its scale degrees.
    Again, CP is not alone this regard. It is a system just as any other system to compose with (12 tone, quartal, secundal, etc.) All systems make for a fairly straightforward process.
    I.e., if the harmonic scaffolding is there, any conjunct melodies or counterpoint are fairly easy to construct.
    But the same is true for any system. Take quartal harmony. The harmonic scaffolding is there. And given that 5 contiguous perfect fourths yield the pitches of a pentatonic “scale”, any conjunct melodies or counterpoint are fairly easy to construct.

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    Senior Member isorhythm's Avatar
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    The book looks like it could be interesting.

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    Senior Member EdwardBast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    EdwardBast: I consider your questioning of the citation as insulting. The rest of your posts are insulting, as well, and are condescending, designed to abort this thread from its outset. I have reported this to the mods, but they have apparently decided not to remove them.
    I really don't understand how you are able to get away with these sorts of actions, unless you hold special favor as an 'inside' advisor to the mods.
    The actions you mention were all the result of your failure to clearly indicate whose words appeared in the OP. You didn't use quotation marks, so I asked what part of the post was attributable to Dmitry Tymoczko and what part was your writing. You then edited the post by putting quotation marks around the whole text and stating that it was a direct quotation of Tymoczko. This was false, and I knew it was false without even checking the original because of a grammatical error in your version that would not have gotten by an editor. Finally, I located the passage in Tymoczko's book and managed to get an accurate version of the passage. All of this could have been avoided had you simply quoted the source correctly.

    As for why I was suspicious enough to go through these contortions to get an accurate quotation out of you, that should be obvious. In the past you have misused quotation marks to falsely attribute to me words I never wrote. Others have had this problem as well. You have damaged your credibility by playing fast and loose with quotation marks in the past, so you have little excuse for being insulted when people don't trust your citations.
    Last edited by EdwardBast; May-29-2020 at 02:43.

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  11. #24
    Senior Member Phil loves classical's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    I think if you re-read the thread, and keep following the premise, the extreme simplicity of the idea will finally strike you.



    That would depend on what notes your counterpoint defines as its harmonic scaffolding, wouldn't it? If the notes you use make up a scale of five or more notes, then yes, almost anything is possible, depending on how large you can tolerate your melodic leaps (i.e. voice leading).

    If you want conjunct melodies, then larger spacing begins to prohibit this.

    It looks like we'd better present some definitions: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steps_and_skips

    Conjunct: In music, a step, or conjunct motion, is the difference in pitch between two consecutive notes of a musical scale. In other words, it is the interval between two consecutive scale degrees. Any larger interval is called a skip (also called a leap), or disjunct motion.

    Melodic motion in which the interval between any two consecutive pitches is no more than a step, or, less strictly, where skips are rare, is called stepwise or conjunct melodic motion, as opposed to skipwise or disjunct melodic motion, characterized by frequent skips.



    But why make such a counterclaim? All this exposition is doing is explaining the nature of tonality, and its harmony and melodic aspects, and how they affect each other reciprocally. What is there to challenge?

    Anyway, to say "there are unlimited possibilities in harmony that can be reached with counterpoint" is fraught with inconsistency.
    Tonality is not about "unlimited possibilities," is it? It's about how you divide up the octave. If your counterpoint consists of scale notes, then that's your harmony.

    You only have 12 notes; what does "unlimited" mean? Dodecaphony? Now we are out of the realm of tonal harmony.
    But, yes, the "clusters" in the example are a form of harmony which generates melodic lines (counterpoint) which "burble and bubble" within a limited range of a chromatic cluster. Or you could say it's the counterpoint that's creating the clusters. It's a "chicken or egg" problem.
    There is still nothing in that quote that implies that Harmony and Counterpoint constrain one another. That is just from a logical standpoint.

    You can have tonal music that incorporate any of the 12 tones in different ways with counterpoint. There is no limitation, as long as the voice leading is done right. ie. You can incorporate any "chord" vertically at least momentarily, as long as the voices are moving toward a certain goal. What do you mean by "If your counterpoint consists of scale notes, then that's your harmony"? There isn't one type of harmony based on scale notes. It can change, you can have different chords and combinations. Check out this fugue by Bach. The vertical harmony wouldn't make sense if taken out of its context. I'm sure he could have worked in any combination of notes vertically between the 3 voices. That's what I mean by unlimited possibilities.

    "Forgive me, Majesty. I'm a vulgar man. But I assure you, my music is not.“ Mozart

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    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Torkelburger View Post
    That's the nature of all music, though. Atonality is not any different. Someone could just as easily say that 12-tone music is a self-fulfilling system which is automatic in nature, a no-brainer for composers (and that the chromatic scale divides the octave evenly) and that 12-tone music composes itself. All you have to do is follow the row and plug in the numbers for melodies and harmonies. The row tells you what notes to write. It’s a paint by numbers system.
    What the book is saying (and this is only the first of four claims about the nature of tonality) is that if you have wide spaces in your harmonic components, you will have wide leaps in the counterpoint or melodic figurations you construct. It's a very simple idea. Since most tonal music uses scales, and if the scales divide the octave fairly evenly, constructing conjunct melodies or smooth voice leading is enabled.

    You are on the wrong track. This is not about "how easy" it is to create good music; it simply tells us what features will facilitate conjunct vs. disjunct melody or counterpoint.
    Last edited by millionrainbows; May-29-2020 at 14:44.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Torkelburger View Post
    Again, CP is not alone this regard. It is a system just as any other system to compose with (12 tone, quartal, secundal, etc.) All systems make for a fairly straightforward process.

    But the same is true for any system. Take quartal harmony. The harmonic scaffolding is there. And given that 5 contiguous perfect fourths yield the pitches of a pentatonic “scale”, any conjunct melodies or counterpoint are fairly easy to construct.
    Yes, you're right. The book, and this idea, is exploring the features of tonality. It's not my purpose to argue with you.

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    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by isorhythm View Post
    The book looks like it could be interesting.
    It is, if you want to know what tonality is from an 'outside the box' perspective. But isn't that true of anything? In order to know what it is, you must compare it with what it is not.

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    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil loves classical View Post
    There is still nothing in that quote that implies that Harmony and Counterpoint constrain one another. That is just from a logical standpoint.

    You can have tonal music that incorporate any of the 12 tones in different ways with counterpoint. There is no limitation, as long as the voice leading is done right. ie. You can incorporate any "chord" vertically at least momentarily, as long as the voices are moving toward a certain goal. What do you mean by "If your counterpoint consists of scale notes, then that's your harmony"? There isn't one type of harmony based on scale notes. It can change, you can have different chords and combinations. Check out this fugue by Bach. The vertical harmony wouldn't make sense if taken out of its context. I'm sure he could have worked in any combination of notes vertically between the 3 voices. That's what I mean by unlimited possibilities.
    I'm not sure what it is that you're arguing about, or what it is about Dmitri's book that seems to offend you.

    I never said that there is only one type of harmony based on scale notes, whatever you mean by that.

    BTW, a scale defines harmonic content, and defines a tonality. See WIK. The first note of a scale presented represents the key note or tonic of a tonality. I don't wish to argue basics such as this.
    Last edited by millionrainbows; May-29-2020 at 18:29.

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    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EdwardBast View Post
    The actions you mention were all the result of your failure to clearly indicate whose words appeared in the OP. You didn't use quotation marks, so I asked what part of the post was attributable to Dmitry Tymoczko and what part was your writing. You then edited the post by putting quotation marks around the whole text and stating that it was a direct quotation of Tymoczko. This was false, and I knew it was false without even checking the original because of a grammatical error in your version that would not have gotten by an editor. Finally, I located the passage in Tymoczko's book and managed to get an accurate version of the passage. All of this could have been avoided had you simply quoted the source correctly.

    As for why I was suspicious enough to go through these contortions to get an accurate quotation out of you, that should be obvious. In the past you have misused quotation marks to falsely attribute to me words I never wrote. Others have had this problem as well. You have damaged your credibility by playing fast and loose with quotation marks in the past, so you have little excuse for being insulted when people don't trust your citations.

    From A Geometry of Music, Dmitri Tymoczko:
    "Figure 1.3.4 shows that any two major chords can be connected by stepwise voice leading in which no voice moves by more than two semitones. This means that Lyrico can write a harmonic progression without worrying about melody; that is, for any sequence of major chords, there is always some way to connect the notes so as to form stepwise melodies...
    But what if Lyrico writes the chromatic cluster [B, C, Db] followed by [E, F, Gb], its transposition by ascending fourth? Here, none of the notes of the first 'chord' are within two semitones of any note in the second, and hence there is no way to combine a sequence of these chords so as to produce conjunct melodies (Figure 1.3.5). At the same time, however, the chromatic cluster can do things that the C major chord can't: Figure 1.3.6 shows that is possible to write contrapuntal music in which individual melodic lines move by short distances within a single, unchanging harmony. Clearly, this is possible only because the chord's notes are all clustered together, ensuring that there is always a short path between any two of them." -p.13-14

  17. #30
    Senior Member Phil loves classical's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    I'm not sure what it is that you're arguing about, or what it is about Dmitri's book that seems to offend you.

    BTW, a scale defines harmonic content, and defines a tonality. See WIK. The first note of a scale presented represents the key note or tonic of a tonality. I don't wish to argue basics such as this.
    I'm arguing the premise of your claim on the thread title, which is not related to that quote. A scale can't define harmonic content, it's the choosing of the notes. Debussy used notes from the same scale as Mozart, but sounds vastly different.
    "Forgive me, Majesty. I'm a vulgar man. But I assure you, my music is not.“ Mozart

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