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London : CAMBRIDGE WAREHOUSE,
17, PATERNOSTER Row. Cambridge: DEIGHTON, BELL, AND CO.
Leipzig: F. A. BROCKHAUS.
COUNTERPOINT is the artificial application of the natural principles of harmony. Its study is of utmost value, as giving to one who has musical ideas faeility in their expression. It is an exercise of the musician's mind as useful for developing the power of thought and the ability to control it as is any mechanical exercise for developing muscular strength and other physical resources. Freethinkers deprecate it on the ground of its artificiality, pretending that its study is useless as a preparation of the modern composer for his task; but they ignore or they forget that discipline strengthens as much the mental as the moral power, that habitude to discipline is the best warrant of liberty, that he alone can successfully evade rules who is fully capable of obeying them, and that the ancient principles of Counterpoint apply—if practically enlarged in their application-most stringently to the structure of music in the idiom of the present day.
It is hoped that the present work contains nothing new in fact, if something unusual in form. It is founded on observation of the music of greatest artists, observation matured perhaps by long use in attempted explaining. It is written in the supposition that the reader will have obtained a large amount of elementary knowledge of music elsewhere, and such details as are within the reach of every musician are therefore, to avoid tedium as much as to save space, omitted. The study of harmony in masses must naturally be collateral with that of part-writing; but if the two be separated in time, then the practice of Counterpoint should precede the other as the likeliest means of fitting the student for its comprehension and its manipulation.
Throughout the book modulation is a matter which is not discussed. This is because the manifold resources of each key offer varieties of effect to the musician, which are of priceless value, but which are often disregarded when the device of changing the key is unrestrainedly employed, a device which tempts composers to transpose from key to key a very limited number of relative combinations and progressions, and to leave unused many others, which, because of their less familiarity, are capable of being made more attractive and impressive. All the examples here offered are thus each restricted to its own key, (a) and the same course is enjoined on the student. Of all modulations, that which is most to be shunned in the writing of exercises, as exercises, is that from one key to another with the same signature. The long-established inaccurate signature of the minor form of a key is a remnant of the Modal system, wherein all the Modes have the same signature, though every one may be transposed higher or lower with altered signature to adjust the position of tones and semitones. This system for ages held back the progress of music, by obscuring, if not totally hiding, the natural principles
(a) The sole exceptions are in the models of Double Counterpoint, the greater extent of which than of other examples is a reason for varying their tonality.