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Music 231

Species Counterpoint–Fall Semester 2021


Section 01: MWF 10:00-10:50a, CA136

Section 02: MWF 8:00-8:50a, online


Instructor: Jono Kornfeld


Office Hours (CA 166F): M, 11:00a-12:30p & 1:45-2:15p by appointment;

W, 12:00p-12:30p (by appointment); and other times by appointment


email link


Graduate Assistant: Alexa Thanos, email link


Remote Learning Procedures

(applicable mainly, but not exclusively to the online section)




Health & Safety Commitments


Everyone’s health and safety is our paramount concern at SF State. We ask every member of our campus community to join a pledge to make and follow plans to keep fellow students, faculty, and staff safe and well. Feeling confident, safe and well will help you focus on your academic success. To participate in this class, all students are expected to: 

  • stay informed on the most up-to-date information related to SF State’s COVID-19 response and Campus Comeback plan
  • plan ahead for possible class disruptions due to COVID-19 or other unexpected events, such as unhealthy air quality caused by smoke
  • take care of yourself and others by staying home when you aren’t feeling well or believe you have been exposed to COVID-19, and 
  • follow all required health and safety guidelines, including verifying your proof of vaccination or exemption status before coming to class; and wearing a multilayered mask over your nose and mouth at all times when indoors on campus; and wash your hands as often as possible (i.e. soap and water, hand sanitizer). 

For more information about SF State’s response to COVID-19 and how you can keep yourself and others safe and well, visit the Campus Comeback Website. To plan for how you will maintain your academic success when unexpected events disrupt regular teaching and learning activities, follow the information on the course syllabus and consult the Keep Learning guide.

Resilient Teaching & Learning Plan


Our campus community is often called to demonstrate compassionate resiliency by adapting and responding to a number of unexpected events, or disruptions, such as personal illness or injury, the COVID-19 pandemic, or unhealthy air quality and power outages due to wildfires. A disruption is a situation that will prevent you, me, or the entire class from participating in 'class as usual' for a reason we could not have predicted at the beginning of the semester.  Our goal as a learning community is to do our best to keep teaching and learning with as little interruption as possible.


If something along these lines happens, we should be able: to maintain communication and send assignments via email; use the web syllabus and iLearn to access assignments; possibly adjust the curriculum; use SFSU’s Zoom app to hold live meetings and/or view recorded lectures.


Most importantly, I am committed to supporting students when they are affected by uncontrollable circumstances in order to keep our in-person and virtual learning environments nurturing and inviting places.

Recommended Text

Required Text

Recommended Book

Counterpoint in Composition*


Columbia University Press

ISBN 0-231-07039-X


Because this text is not required, you are strongly encouraged to have easy access to all lecture notes and reading sheets.

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, or MUS 234/235, or by passing the appropriate section of the theory placement exam

This course is a prerequisite for MUS 232


This course focuses on melody-based music, particularly from the 16th century (Renaissance era) Western European vocal style. We concentrate on two-part contrapuntal (known as voice-lead) textures, mainly relying on the Species Counterpoint method of study, which has been around since the 1700s. The goal of this course is to expand your theoretical and aural vocabularies as they relate to centuries-old Western European, but also music, like jazz, rock, folk and pop. Through counterpoint, we explore how specific and general aspects of music interrelate across a variety of styles and eras. By the end of the semester, you should be able to recognize contrapuntal features in music, and/or compose portions music in a contrapuntal style. In parallel with the above curriculum, we will address notation, score formatting/presentation, and general vocabulary pertinent to many styles of music.


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

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

Each assignment and quiz will have its own grade. You can also look up your grades to date on iLearn, where information will be posted periodically in a spreadsheet. Grades are listed via an assigned alias to protect your privacy.


Class Participation/Communication/Meeting: 5%

Students are expected to attend all classes and participate, but attendance is not required.  Participation means joining on time, being fully present and engaged, not behaving in a distracted or distracting manner, and very-importantly, treating others with respect. Students should practice professional-level communication during class, and in written correspondence. There is also one required one-to-one meeting you will have with me (via Zoom) so I can learn more about you and your musical goals. This will be scheduled early in the semester.


Keyboard Performance Demonstration: 5%

This will be submitted/emailed as a video file (or two separate files). Submitting a link to a file is fine.


Final Analysis/Composition Project: 15%

Details TBA


Quizzes: 5%

[modified on 10/4/21] There will be two quizzes. They will be announced in advance. Quizzes should take between 10-15 minutes to complete, and will use questions drawn from the text, lecture notes, 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 or redone. Quizzes must be submitted via email by 11:59pm on the due date.


Homework: 70%

[modified on 10/4/21] Homework (mainly small analysis and composition-style exercises) is due on the day announced, via email by 11:59pm. Unexcused late assignments will not be accepted, but reasonable excuses are ok in some cases.  The lowest two grades will be dropped (does not apply to smaller assignments like the alto clef and notation drills assignments). Emailing an assignment late without any explanation will result in a grade of 0 for that assignment. Homework collaboration option.


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 submit a copied-over, corrected version of the original assignment on a separate piece of paper. For the latter, you MUST include the original assignment along with the redo; you don't have to copy over portions of the original assignment that were done correctly. This does NOT apply to quizzes, which cannot be redone.


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


Missed assignments or quizzes: in the event of extenuating circumstances, make-up quizzes or assignment-extensions may be granted 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.


Plagiarism: While some collaboration is expected and productive, the bulk of your assignments and definitely anything composed 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 Remote Classroom Guidelines

Attendance is not required, but strongly encouraged. All Zoom meetings will be recorded and made available ASAP. 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, distracting, or disrespectful behavior will not be tolerated and may result in you being asked to leave the classroom or a remote meeting. 


There may be instances where we need to make individual, special arrangements.  In these cases, it is best that we do so 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 and professionally 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 address.

Revisions to this Syllabus

The syllabus (including assignments, quiz and grade distributions) and downloads are subject to revisions as the semester progresses.  Check the syllabus web page often, and your email, 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. Use this link to print staff paper. 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

You should plan to be able to print required materials/assignments/quizzes for class on a regular basis. However, it is understandable that printing could be a hardship for some, in which case we will work out an alternative so that everyone can access what they need. You should also be able to photograph or scan assignments for email submission. All materials will be available through the web syllabus (and occasionally iLearn & emails) and will be PDF files.



(Week No.)

Week of

Class Topics and Downloadable Notes

Assignments, and items to print (or just download)

for that week with specific due day


Aug 23

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

(F) Complete, but do not submit: syllabus assignment

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

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


Aug 30

Introduction to Species Counterpoint

Species Counterpoint Examples  (audio) website (for general reference)

(M) Complete, but do submit: first 10 measure of Cantiones duarum vocum (G clef version) with the harmonic intervals (just the interval numbers) analyzed between the parts (see example)

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

(W) Submit: General Review Assignment (three pages)


Sept 6

No Class, Labor Day (M)

Cantus Firmus

Cantus Firmus Audio Examples

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

Print/Download: Cantus Firmus Errors List (Keep this on hand)

(W) Submit: Alto clef and intervals assignment (two pages)

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


Sept 13

Cantus Firmus cont'd

General Melody

(Sat, 6p) Submit: Melody Writing Exercise





Sept 20

Cantus Firmus cont'd

First Species

   First Species Audio Examples

   BAD first species audio example

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) Submit: Cantus Firmus exercise

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

Download: Species Counterpoint Errors List (Keep this on hand)


Sept 27

First Species cont'd

(W) Submit: First Species Analysis  (audio)

(F) Submit: Keyboard Performance Demonstration (it may be easiest to make two video files, one for the major-key cantus, and one for the minor-key cantus)


Oct 4

Second Species

2nd Species Audio Examples

Reading Sheet: 2nd Species

Read: 2nd species lecture notes

(W) Submit: First Species exercise



Oct 11

Second Species cont'd

Third Species

3rd Species Audio Examples

Reading Sheet: 3rd Species

Read: 3rd Species lecture notes

(M) Submit: Second Species Analysis  (audio)

(F) Submit: Notation assignment II


Oct 18

Third Species cont'd

(M) Submit: Second Species exercise

(F) Submit: Third Species Analysis  (audio)


Oct 25

Third Species cont'd

Fourth Species

4th Species Audio Examples

Reading Sheet: 4th Species

Read: 4th Species lecture notes

(F) Submit: Third Species exercise


Nov 1

Fourth Species cont'd

Fifth Species

5th Species Audio Examples

More 5th species examples  (audio)

Reading Sheet: 5th Species

(W) Submit: Fourth Species Analysis and Preparation  (audio)

Read: 5th Species lecture notes


Nov 8

Fifth Species cont'd

(M) Extra credit assignment

(W) Submit: Fourth Species exercise

Read: Lecture notes on Free Counterpoint



Nov 15

Discuss Final Project (audio)

Free Counterpoint

Reading Sheet: Free counterpoint

Example: (score) (audio)

Another example: (score)  (audio)

(M) Submit: Fifth Species Analysis  (audio)

(F) Submit: Fifth Species exercise



November 22-26: Fall Recess, No Classes



Nov 29

Free Counterpoint cont'd

Canon & Imitation

Canon examples

Bach Canon

Read: Lecture notes on Canon & Imitation

(F) Submit: Notation assignment III

(you may write your answer on a separate piece of staff paper if you do not want to print-out the assignment – notate NEATLY and separate your systems with a blank staff system)


(F) Print/Download (but do not complete) Canon Worksheet


Dec 6

Culminating Perspectives

Further Explorations

Final Project Drafts returned (F)


(M) Submit: Final Project Draft (optional)


Dec 13

(F, December 17) Submit: Final Project (audio)



Due by Friday, December 17