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COUNTERPOINT

BY

C. H. KITSON

M.A. (CANTAB.), D.MUS. (OXON.)

F.R.C.O. (HONORIS CAUSA)

OXFORD

AT THE CLARENDON PRESS

1916

Oxford University Press
London Edinburgh Glasgow New York

Toronto Melbourne Bombay
IIumphrey Milford M.A. Publisher to the University

1887

PREFACE

So many pupils have acknowledged to me the advantages that have accrued to them from having understood and practised the application of Strict Counterpoint in composition in the strict style, that it seemed to me a short treatise on the subject might be serviceable.

Very few teachers encourage the study of Strict Counterpoint in anything but its purely technical and analytical aspects. It is certain that very few students understand the function of the semibreve Canto Fermo. Still fewer realize that it can be eliminated, and that the application of the technique of Strict Counterpoint without this constant factor results in composition in the style of the Polyphonic Period.

My previous treatise, The Art of Counterpoint, dealt merely with the grammar of the subject. There is little point in being able to decline-let us say-amicus or Caesar, or to conjugate interficio, if we cannot form them into a complete sentence, as for example, "Caesarem interfecit amicus'. This short treatise represents the synthetical aspect of the subject.

A great many of the arguments that are put forward, both in support of and in opposition to the study of Strict Counterpoint, show such confused and misguided ideas as to what precisely constitutes Strict Counterpoint, that it has been thought well to begin this book with a statement of the true facts of the case, and so to show the reasons which have led me to differ from some modern writers in various details of technique.

It is assumed that the student is tolerably proficient in Strict Counterpoint up to four or five parts with a semibreve Canto Fermo, including combined Counterpoint. I hope that a perusal of this book will induce teachers and examiners to encourage students to pursue the subject of Strict Counterpoint beyond its purely grammatical side. It is true that it is the study of a dead language. But it will be something gained if we can get students to understand that it is a language at all, and it will make for better scholarship if they are enabled to criticize theory by the only possible criterion, that of practice. To study merely the grammar of a language is a sheer waste of valuable time : no one would ever learn grammar merely for its own sake. It is hoped that this treatise will make the study of Strict Counterpoint rational and real, by showing its only logical basis and conclusion.

C. H. KITSON.

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