Return to schedule page

Music 231

Contrapuntal Analysis and Synthesis–Spring Semester 2019

MWF 8:00-8:50a, CA 136


Instructor: Jono Kornfeld

Office: CA 166F

Office Hours: M, W, F, 9-10a; and by appointment

Phone: 415-338-6013, email









Required Text 1

Required Text 2

Recommended Text

Counterpoint in Composition*


Columbia University Press

ISBN 0-231-07039-X

Norton Manual of Music Notation

George Heussenstamm

W. W. Norton & Co.

ISBN 0-393955265

Download errata sheet

A College-Level Music Dictionary:

Oxford, Harvard, etc.

*A pdf of chapter 1 is available through iLearn in the Announcements section

Course Objectives

The prerequisite for this course is MUS 130; This course is a prerequisite for MUS 232


This course will focus on vocal music (voice leading) of the 16th century through analysis and synthesis (composing), specifically of two-part contrapuntal textures.  We will primarily use the Species Counterpoint method of study as presented by Salzer/Schacter's Counterpoint In Composition text.  This course intends to expand your theoretical and aural vocabularies as applied to the Renaissance and common practice styles. Through a careful study of voice leading, we will explore how specific and general aspects of music interrelate across a variety of styles. By the end of this course you should be able to compose and analyze a short, vocal-based piece in the style of 16th century composers such as Lassus or Palestrina.


Your written work will consist of a mixture between homework, quizzes, exams and separate composition/analysis projects.

Grading:  All grades will be given as a percentage.  Only your final grade will be a letter grade.

Each assignment and exam will have its own grade. You can also look up your grades to date through this link—grades are listed via an alias to protect your privacy.


Class Participation/Communication: 5%

Students are expected to attend all classes and participate.  Participation means arriving on time, being fully present and engaged, and not behaving in a distracted or distracting manner.  Use of cell phones and/or electronic devices for non-emergency, or non-class-related purposes will be considered disruptive, and will count against your participation credit—they should be put away during class. Students should practice professional-level communication in class, and in written correspondence.


Keyboard Performance Demonstration: 5%


Final Composition Project: 10%

Details TBA


Quizzes: 10%

There will be approximately 5 (they will be announced in advance).  The quizzes will use questions drawn from the text and syllabus reading sheets (all downloadable in advance) and will be open-note/book.  You should have a pencil and staff paper available for all quizzes.  Missed quizzes cannot be made up.  The lowest grade will be dropped.


Homework/Pre-Homework Classwork: 50%

Homework (mainly small composition-style exercises) is due on the day announced, in class unless otherwise specified.  For most homework, there will be preparatory in-class work (different from quizzes) that you must do to receive full credit on your homework. You will get feedback on this preparatory work before handing in the actual assignment. You should expect to do this in-class work one to two classes a week. Late assignments will not be accepted.  The lowest grade will be dropped (does not apply to smaller assignments like the alto clef and notation drills assignments). Putting an assignment into the in folder after its due date without any explanation will result in a grade of 0 for that assignment. Homework collaboration option.


Exams (2 @ 20% total): Midterm (10%), Final (10%)

The final exam will include general listening identifications: A list with links to recordings is here.


Redo Policy: Unless otherwise specified, you can redo any homework assignment that gets less than a 93%.  The score of the redone version of the assignment will be averaged with the original score for a final assignment grade, with a maximum possible grade of 93%.  Redone assignments are due two class periods after the original assignment is returned. Redoing an assignment means that you either make clear corrections on the original assignment, or that you hand in a copied-over, corrected version of the original assignment on a separate piece of paper. For the latter, you MUST staple the redone assignment to the original marked-up version; you don't have to copy over portions of the original assignment that were done correctly. This does NOT apply to quizzes or exams.


**Please note: the above percentages are subject to redistribution**


Missed assignments, quizzes or exams: in the event of an unforeseen absence, make-up exams/quizzes or assignment-extensions may be granted for extenuating circumstances, and only on a case-by-case basis.  Such circumstances must be documented when possible (i.e. a doctor's note, etc.) and I must be notified as soon as possible.


Extra credit assignments (optional): may be assigned and will be announced in class.


Plagiarism: While some collaboration is expected and productive, the bulk of your assignments and definitely any compositions must be done individually unless otherwise specified.  Violations will be subject to the University's Code of Conduct as it relates to such matters.


Please note the following from the SFSU Bulletin: To receive credit toward completion of the degree requirements, a grade of C or better is required for all music courses in the Bachelor of Arts in Music major...To receive credit toward completion of the degree requirements, a grade of C or better is required for all music courses in the Bachelor of Music major.


Disability access

Students with disabilities who need reasonable accommodations are encouraged to contact the instructor.  The Disability Programs and Resource Center (DPRC) is available to facilitate the reasonable accommodations process. The DPRC is located in the Student Service Building and can be reached by telephone (voice/415-338-2472, video phone/415-335-7210) or by email (


Student disclosures of sexual violence

SF State fosters a campus free of sexual violence including sexual harassment, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, and/or any form of sex or gender discrimination.  If you disclose a personal experience as an SF State student, the course instructor is required to notify the Title IX Coordinator by completing the report form available at, emailing or calling 338-2032.


To disclose any such violence confidentially, contact:

*The SAFE Place - (415) 338-2208;

*Counseling and Psychological Services Center - (415) 338-2208;

*For more information on your rights and available resources:

Attendance and Classroom Guidelines

It is your responsibility to get notes from any class you miss.  Do not send emails or request appointments regarding material covered during an unexcused absence.  Disruptive or distracting behavior will not be tolerated and may result in you being asked to leave or have an assigned seat.  Such behavior includes: inappropriate talking with classmates, using cell phones or other electronic devices, repeatedly arriving late, and/or engaging in distracting behavior.  BRING YOUR TEXTBOOK TO CLASS UP THROUGH THE 5th SPECIES TOPIC.


There may be instances where we need to make individual, special arrangements.  In these cases, it is best that we do so in person.  However, it will also be necessary to follow up such face-to-face communications with confirmation emails.  In the event that we have made a special arrangement, please make sure we have at least done so in writing.  If you write to me, please communicate as clearly as possible.  While this is a music class, you are expected to practice college-level, professional communication standards in your written and oral communication. Make sure your SFSU email is set up to forward to your regular/personal email.

Revisions to this Syllabus

The syllabus (including assignments, exam and grade distributions) and downloads are subject to revisions as the semester progresses.  Check the syllabus web page often and listen for announcements in class.  Do not download the lecture notes and/or assignments all at once in case revisions are made as the semester progresses.


In an ongoing effort to nurture your notation skills, all work handed in must be written in pencil; computer-notated assignments will not be accepted. When using staff paper for any assignment, the paper should have no left- or right-side bar lines and have no clefs printed on it. Notation is a factor in grading. Notation errors, cross-outs, sloppy notation or analyses may lower assignment grades and/or will be handled on a discretionary basis. To receive full credit, notation must be in accordance with the Norton Manual of Music Notation.

Printing Materials for Class

The Music Office is requiring as little photocopying as possible.  You should plan to be able to print supplemental, required materials for class on a regular basis.  All materials will be available through the web syllabus and will be PDF files.



(Week No.)

Week of

Class Topics and Downloadable Notes

(day covered–"M, W, F")

Assignments and items to print

for that week with specific due day


Jan 28

Class organization, Course overview; Working with the Alto Clef, Other C Clefs and Intervals (MW)

Introduction to Species Counterpoint (F)

(W) Hand In: syllabus assignment

(F) Print: Cantiones duarum vocum C clef version with text and

G clef version (audio version) AND print Oculus non vidit


Feb 4

Introduction to Species Counterpoint cont'd (M)

Cantus Firmus  (WF)

Reading Sheet: S/S I, part 1 (Cantus Firmus)

(M) Bring to class, but do NOT hand in: first 10 measure of Cantiones duarum vocum (G clef version) with the harmonic intervals (just numbers) analyzed between the parts (see example)

Read: Salzer/Schacter ("S/S"): Ch. I, part 1 (Cantus Firmus)

(F) Hand in: General Review Assignment (three pages)

Print: Cantus Firmus Errors List (Keep this at hand)


Feb 11

Cantus Firmus cont'd (MWF)

(M) Hand in: Alto clef and intervals assignment (two pages)

(W) Hand in: Notation assignment I: from the Norton notation manual: drills on page 63; copy onto staff paper or print this link


Feb 18

First Species (MWF)

Reading Sheet: S/S: I, part 2 (1st Species)

First Species Examples (good and bad)

How to WRITE a species assignment

How to FORMAT a species assignment

Species Counterpoint imperfection allowances

(W) Hand in: Cantus Firmus assignment

Read: S/S: Ch. I, part 2 (1st Species)


Feb 25

First Species cont'd (MW)

Second Species (F)

Reading Sheet: S/S: II, part 1 (2nd Species)

Print: Species Counterpoint Errors List (Keep this at hand)

Read: S/S: Ch. II, part 1 (2nd Species)

(W) Keyboard Performance Demonstration


March 4

Second Species cont'd (MWF)

(W) Hand in: First Species assignment

Read: S/S: Ch. III, part 1 (3rd Species)



March 11

Third Species (MWF)

Reading Sheet: S/S: III, I (3rd Species)


(W) Hand in: Second Species assignment

(F) Hand In: Notation assignment II: from the Norton notation manual: drill on pages 82-83 (example 3-9); rewrite according to the comments on pp. 85-86, BUT TRANSPOSE THE NOTES UP TO THE KEY OF THREE FLATS; copy onto staff paper. Leave a blank system between staves to allow for space.

Read: S/S: Ch. IV, part 1 (4th Species)


March 18

Third Species cont'd (M)

Fourth Species (WF)

Reading Sheet: S/S: IV, I (4th Species)

(F) Hand in: Third Species assignment


March 25 - 29: Spring Recess, No Class



April 1

No Class, Cesar Chavez Day (M)

Fourth Species cont'd (W)

Midterm exam review Study Guide (F)

(W) Extra credit assignment


April 8

Midterm Exam: Cantus firmus through 4th species (M)

Fifth Species (WF)

Reading Sheet: S/S: V, part 1 (5th Species)

(W) Hand in: Fourth Species assignment

Read: S/S: Ch. V, part 1 (5th Species)


April 15

Fifth Species cont'd (MWF)



April 22

Free Counterpoint (MWF)

Reading Sheet: Free counterpoint

Example: (score) (audio)

Another example: (score)  (audio)

Read: Lecture notes on Free Counterpoint

(F) Hand in: Fifth Species assignment


April 29

Free Counterpoint cont'd (MWF)

Discuss Final Composition Assignment (F)

(F) Hand In: Notation assignment III: from the Norton notation manual: drill on page 99 (example 3-34); rewrite according to the comments on page 102, BUT TRANSPOSE THE NOTES DOWN TO THE KEY OF ONE SHARP; copy onto staff paper. Leave a blank system between staves to allow for space.


May 6

Canon & Imitation (MWF)

Canon examples

Bach Canon

Read: Lecture notes on Canon




May 13

Further Explorations (M)

Final Exam Review (W – last day of classes)

(M) Hand In: Canon Worksheet


May 20

Practice exam

(M) Final Exam, 8:00 – 10:00am:

Prior material (comprehensive); Fifth species; Free counterpoint; Canon; general listening identifications

(W, May22, 11am or earlier) Hand In:

Final Composition Assignment

Example score no. 1  Audio version

Example score no. 2  Audio version




Due by Wednesday, May 22, 11am

Oculus non vidit score