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on August 7, 2002
I'm sure lots of people have been in this situation: you blitz through species counterpoint in your freshman year as a music major, only to realize its importance much later (i.e. after your extensive tour of the rest of music theory). Books like Salzer/Schachter's are a good way to go back and do it properly. This book is excellent and thorough, covering counterpoint not only as a theoretical grounding for later harmonic theory, but also examining its use in large-scale composition. The only problem with the book is the Salzer/Schachter's prose- it's like they're bringing down the counterpoint rules on tablets from the sacred mountain. Some procedures are flatly forbidden that more relaxed authors -- like Jeppesen -- excuse (in instances where fudging the rules produces a beautiful voice leading). In some cases, they contradict other authors- Jeppesen cannot encourage voice-crossing enough, Salzer/Schachter list it as a mortal sin. Worse, Salzer/Schachter write their exercises for 'The Student', an individual of impossible concentration and diligence who can compose whole exercises in his/her head and would be ashamed to even touch a piano. In other words, their tone is not exactly encouraging- compared to 'The Student', your early efforts are bound to feel pretty clumsy (at least mine were). Still, this is a nice book with lots of good exercises and examples drawn from real music literature. Between Salzer/Schachter, Fux, and Jeppesen, it's more than possible to make a thorough review of counterpoint working by yourself.
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on August 21, 2000
The Salzer counterpoint book is a must for any serious musician. This book adresses counterpoint not as a theoretical abstraction but as a concrete musical experience. All too often counterpoint is reduced to meaningless exercises not connected with real world music. This book, which is fairly new, combines Fux's species counterpoint whith Schenkerian thought to create the most solid counterpoint book to date.
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