Lindsay Davidson 
Driving 'piping forward
2nd Species

The idea behind species counterpoint is that we add new layers of possibilities as we progress through the species.  Here we start to manage dissonance.

Thus, less new rules, but the textures become more complex.

Second species counterpoint is when we have two notes to every note in the cantus firmus.

Whilst these are usually all of the same length, they may  from time to time have varied lengths. This is sometimes called expanded second species.

Two new terms:

neighbour notewhen the accompanying voice returns to the same note with only one note in between (ie DCD). This figure can only be used when it is consonant with the cantus firmus.
passing tonestepwise move between notes a third apart.  These may be dissonant when not accented.

New rules which we add on top of first species are:
  • we can start on an upbeat
  • accented beats must always be consonant
  • unisons are permissable on unaccented notes but must be approached and left by step.
  • do not jump onto or out of a dissonance
  • no sequences
Stylistic suggestions:
  • try to minimise successive accented perfect fifths and octaves.
  • avoid leaps of more than a thirds at the beginning of a bar. Follow all such leaps with a change in direction.
  • large leaps can be broken up into smaller ones. After doing this though you should change direction.
Practical suggestions
  • sketch in the climax and endings before writing the rest of the piece
  • write the intervals between your notes and note whether they are consonant and dissonant. Also look at existing examples (a page of examples will be added to this site in due course) and do the same.

Counterpoint Index
Cantus Firmus
1st Species
2nd Species
3rd Species
4th Species
5th Species

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