Principles of Counterpoint

Conclusion, Acknowledgments, Bibliography



One final point remains: Like all musical juxapositions, contrast between lines depends for its effectiveness on the composer’s sensitivity to musical character. Counterpoint can enrich music, from the level of individual motives to the level of an entire piece.
Well taught, counterpoint should encourage and enable depth of musical thought, and help increase the composer’s emotional range.


I would like to thank the following people for their comments and suggestions: Sylvain Caron, Guillaume Jodoin, Charles Lafleur, Philippe Lévesque, Martin Nadeau, Réjean Poirier, and Massimo Rossi. Daniel Barkley kindly spent a great deal of time helping with the musical examples. Andrew Schartmann contributed suggestions concerning the writing.



  • Benjamin, Thomas. Counterpoint in the Style of Bach. New York: Schirmer Books, 1986.
  • Gedalge, André. Treatise on Fugue. Mattapan, Mass.: Gamut Music Co., 1964.
  • Jeppesen, Knud. Counterpoint. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, Inc., 1939.
  • Koechlin, Charles. Etude sur l’écriture de la fugue d’école. Paris: Max Eschig, 1933.
  • Koechlin, Charles. Précis des Règles du Contrepoint. Paris: Heugel, 1934.
  • Oldroyd, George. The Technique and Spirit of Fugue. London: Oxford University Press, 1974.
  • Piston, Walter. Counterpoint. New York: W. W. Norton and Co., 1947
  • Prout, Ebeneezer. Fugue. New York: Haskell House Publishers, 1969.
  • Salzer, Felix, and Carl Schachter. Counterpoint in Composition. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1969.
  • Schoenberg, Arnold. Coherence, Counterpoint, Instrumentation, Instruction in Form. Lincoln, University of Nebraska Press, 1994.
  • Schoenberg, Arnold. Preliminary Exercises in Counterpoint. New York: St Martin’s Press, 1970.
  • Soderlund, Gustave. Direct Approach to Counterpoint in the 16th Century Style. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts,1947.
  • Tovey, Donald Francis. A Companion to “The Art of Fugue”. London: Oxford University Press, 1960.
  • Tovey, Donald Francis. The Forms of Music. New York: Meridian Books, 1963.





  • Introduction
  • The pedagogy of counterpoint
  • Stylistic assumptions


  • Voice leading
  • Contour
  • Compound line
  • Accent
  • Melodic structure and ornamentation
  • Motives and coherence
  • Neutral lines


  • Richness
  • Harmonic definition
  • Modulation

Relationships between lines

  • Introduction
  • Classifications of contrapuntal texture
  • Invertible counterpoint: a special case
  • Counterpoint and orchestration

Instrumental Counterpoint

  • Range
  • Crossing
  • Specific instrumental idioms and motives

Contrapuntal forms

  • Fugue
  • Canon
  • Passacaglia and chaconne

Real world uses of counterpoint

  • Counterpoint in non-polyphonic forms

Conclusion, acknowledgments, bibliography