Lindsay Davidson 
Driving 'piping forward

4th Species

This is the stage at which accented dissonances are introduced and our exercises start to resemble real music... We return to two notes against one note to practice suspensions.

Some new terms and ideas:

Suspensiona note is held over a bar line, or half beat, and thus may become a dissonance on a strong beat. This will alway 'resolve' by falling except where the suspended interval is a fifth (in which case it can be resolved by going up)

Suspensions can happen in both the upper and lower voices. If in the upper voices, the permissible dissonances (and their resolutions) are 7th-6th, 4th-3rd and less common but permissible 9th-octave. If in the lower voices the permissible dissonances (and their resolutions) are 2nd-3rd, 9th-10th and also, unusual but acceptable, 4th-5th.

New rules are:
  • If a suspension is cleared by the cantus firmus leaping, both notes must be consonant
  • each exercise must end with a 7-6 suspension leading to a final octave in the upper voice, or a 2-3-unison in the lower voice.
Stylistic suggestions:
  • avoid parallel fifths and octaves 'hidden' by a suspension. We can say this another way - as Fux (the inventor of this training method) did, "[the counterpoint should...] sound well even if the retardations or ligatures [suspensions] are removed..."
  • avoid repeating 2nd-unison supsensions, and also 9th - octave suspensions
  • 'breaking' species is acceptable here in order to make better music, but be careful. The reason for species counterpoint is to give you a firm foundation, not a mindless set of rules.
Counterpoint Index
Cantus Firmus
1st Species
2nd Species
3rd Species
4th Species
5th Species

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