Alan Belkin, composer

Principles of Counterpoint

This book is the second in a series of short works on the teaching of musical composition. In the first volume, A Practical Guide to Musical Composition, we discussed principles of musical form independently of style and conventional "forms".  Here we will take a similar approach to counterpoint, treating it as an aspect of composition training and not as an independant  academic discipline. The other volumes are Orchestration and Harmony. All grow out of my own experience as a composer.

A pdf version of this book is available for download here. An Italian version of this book (pdf) is available here. There is also a Spanish version. I am looking for a volunteer to translate this book into German; please contact me a (replace _at_ with @).

This series is dedicated to the memory of my teacher and friend Marvin Duchow , one of the rare true scholars, a musician of great depth and sensitivity, and a man of unsurpassed kindness and generosity.

Note concerning the musical examples: Unless otherwise indicated, all the musical examples are my own, and are covered by copyright. To hear other examples of my music, please visit the worklist page.

Most of the examples, apart from those which are excerpts from longer compositions of mine, are intended for the voice. However, due to the unsatisfactory sound of current choral simulations, they have been rendered with organ sounds.

For those having problems with the plug-in required to hear the examples, Riccardo Distasi kindly wrote a script adding plain links for each example.

Table of Contents

Preface Line


Relationships between lines Instrumental Counterpoint Contrapuntal forms Real world uses of counterpoint Conclusion, acknowledgments, bibliography

© Alan Belkin, 2000, 2008. Legal proof of copyright exists. The material may be used free of charge provided that the author's name is included.

website © Alan Belkin, 2008

email: (replace _at_ with @). I am always glad to hear comments or suggestions concerning the content here. I do get a great deal of email from this website, so I may not reply to you immediately. Since so many have asked, I do offer private lessons, either in person or via the Internet; please inquire for my rates. Please do not send me your music without an invitation; I unfortunately do not have time to respond to everyone who just wants my opinion of their score.