Some preliminary principles of counterpoint

I’ve been slowly trying to develop a list of the basic principles or ideals of counterpoint as I see it (as a radical, emancipatory, and abstract art). I can so far identify six. Each of these can be found in different eras of composition, but I’m not sure if they’ve all been put together as I’m attempting.

  1. Equality of parts: All parts are potentially equal for perception, no part has an a priori significance – and a work should demonstrate this equality.
  2. Divisibility of parts: Each part is itself divisible into parameters that are at least logically independent of each other.
  3. Transmutability of parts: Any part can potentially become another other part, either partially, in only some parameters, or (this is an ideal, and asymptotic goal) wholly, in every parameter. The point of a work is also to demonstrate this possible fluidity.
  4. Liberated space: The work bases itself on a set of parameters that is exterior (at least in its basic concept) to conventional structures.
  5. Worldly dimensions: The work should demonstrate the full scope from minimal to maximal values of its chosen parameters, each musical ‘object’ reciprocally determining each other within the field of relations.
  6. Experience of determination: The work should explore the intensity of appearing of the determinations of values from one to the other, this becomes a principle dictating not only vertical texture-types, but also the horizontal placement of the musical elements.

These of course need further refinement, and I’ll need to articulate their interrelationships a little better, but I’m quite happy with the basic formulation, and quite convinced of its necessity.

Advertisements