In and out of time

published15 days ago
2 min read

I'd like to thank everyone who helped make the launch of my new online course Practical Counterpoint such a success! I'm now mulling over a number of ideas for my next course or other oroject. I'm taking feedback via this post in the Community, so leave a comment if you'd like to make suggestions!

MuseScore Café

This week in the MuseScore Café with Marc Sabatella, we'll be looking at ways of working outside the normal meter - individual measures with fewer or more beats than normal, passages or entire score with no meter, etc. Useful in Renaissance and Romantic music, cadenzas, scale worksheets, and many other situations - I'll show you how it's done!

Tip of the Week

In the MuseScore Café, I'll be talking about a bunch of different ways of working with time. Right now I want to tell you about one that is not well-known. If you click the little arrow next to the note input icon on the toolbar, you'll see a dropdown menu with alternate note input methods, If you choose the Insert method, you'll find that as you add notes to a measure, instead of replacing what's there now, it will insert new notes, thus increasing the duration of the measure. This can be useful for creating cadenzas and other non-metered passages.

Music Master Class

This week I'll be looking at student submissions in a variety of styles. No doubt some counterpoint will work its way in, but I'm expecting to focus on that topic more in coming weeks as more of students starting reaching the point of submitting their exercises and projects!

In Theory

In the video with the counterpoint round I sent out last week (those of who enrolled in the course earlier may not have seen it, so now you can check it out too), I mentioned I had just written the piece that morning - and actually, I wrote most of it in my head, lying in bed. Creating rounds is actually pretty easy once you know the trick, although you can do things to make them more interesting if you like.

The easy way is to make sure each phrase has the same simple harmonic scheme, like I-V. Then you know they will work in counterpoint with each other as each phrase is heard simultaneously with the previous phrase in the following voice. Starting each phrase with scale degree 1, 3, or 5 will thus usually work well.

But my round was slightly little more involved. The first notes of the first three phrases were 1, 3, and 5 as expected. But then the next phrase started with 7. This harmonized with the previous 5 in the following voice to form a V chord. The next phrase then started with 4, which harmonized with the previous 7 to form a V7 chord. The next phrase then started with with 5, which harmonized with the previous 4 to form another V7 chord. Then the last phrase started with 3 to harmonize with the previous 5 to form a I chord. So, still a very simple harmonic structure, but not exactly the same from phrase to phrase. Planning out the harmony in this way does not take a lot of effort but adds interest and makes actually constructing the round go much more easily.

Here's the music, showing the implied harmonies:

sheet music for round


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