Apr 192014
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I just found a really interesting listening exercise that I thought I would share. It is designed to help train in how to listen to counterpoint more effectively.

Counterpoint is music that has two or more melodic parts that are somewhat independent in rhythm and melody, however together they create an interdependent harmony. It was most common in the Baroque period of classical music and probably most developed by Bach, however most classical composers have used counterpoint in their works.

There is an art and skill in being able to listen to counterpoint, simultaneously keeping track of the separate melodies while still appreciating their common motives and combined harmony.

The video in the link below is designed to train this listening skill. It uses a fugue from Bach’s “Art of Fugue” as the example. It provides a visual representation of the 4 parts in the fugue to allow the eye to follow the various parts and help the ear identify them.

Additionally, the author provides a set of listening exercises in the video description that should help start to develop this listening skill.

The Video: Counterpoint Listening Exercises

My interest in finding this is two fold: The higher grade theory and musicianship exams in the AMEB music examination system require you to write some counterpoint (without the aid of an instrument) and I might end up sitting some of these exams at some point.

Secondly is an observation that when I visualise music, it often has a monophonic nature. Event the chords sort of have a monophonic identity to them (sort of hard to explain) so I hope this sort of video will help develop a more polyphonic inner hearing faculty.

I hope this is interesting to you.

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