Lindsay Davidson 
Driving 'piping forward
3rd Species

The most obvious difference between second and third species counterpoint is that we now have three or four notes to each note in the cantus firmus. Again, it may be expanded to have notes of different lengths.

Some new terms and ideas:

Double neighbour noteA figure where firstly a note above, then one below are used between a repeated pitch. ie. C DB C, where the D and B are double neighbour notes
Nota cambiataa special figure (very common in Palestrina) using four notes and a jump of a third, dropping a step over its whole length. For example CBGAB
Inverted nota cambiatathe same as a nota cambiata, except that it is inverted. ie CDFED
Embellishng tonea skip from a single note, followed immediately by the first note. The skip will always be less than a fourth. ie. CEC or CDC or CFC. This is used to embellish the line.

New rules which we add on top of second species are:
  • there are now four notes to each note of the cantus firmus
  • the candence must be on the fourth quarter of the second voice in the second last bar
  • the first and thrid quarters of each bar must be consonant whilst the second and fourth quarters may be dissonant
Stylistic suggestions:
  • do not jump off dissonances
  • the third quarter can be dissonant providing all the other beats in the bar are consonant
  • unisons are still not permited at the begining of the bar, but are permitted elsewhere
  • neighbour notes may now be dissonant (but don't overuse them generally)
  • after a nota cambiata, a dissonance is acceptable, but again, don't overdo it.
  • nota cambiatas can start on either the first or the third beat of the bar
  • 5ths and octaves to differnet cantus firmus notes should be separated by more than a quarter note
  • 5ths and octaves to a single cantus firmus not are acceptable
  • do not repeat 5ths and octaves at the beginning of bars
  • do not repeat or tie notes
As before, end stepwise.

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

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