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Music 231

Species Counterpoint–Fall Semester 2023


MW 10:00-10:50am, CA136

F 10:00-10:50am, Remote (Zoom - go to SFSU Canvas)


Instructor: Jono Kornfeld


Office Hours (CA 166F):

M, 11:00a-12:00p (sometimes 11a - 12p on W);

and other times by appointment either in person or via Zoom


email link





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 COVID-19 information web page. 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.

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 Canvas 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.

Required Text

Recommended Book

Recommended Text

Essential Dictionary of Music Notation


Alfred Publishing Company, Inc

ISBN 9780882847306

Approximate cost: $11.00

A College-Level Music Dictionary:

Oxford, Harvard, etc.


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. *A pdf of chapter 1 is available through Canvas 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 evaluation

This course is a prerequisite for MUS 232


This 3-unit course focuses on melody-centered 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 1500s. The goal of this course is to expand your theoretical and aural vocabularies as they relate to centuries-old Western European music, 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.


Interwoven with the above curriculum, we will address notation, score formatting/presentation, general vocabulary pertinent to many styles of music, and what it means to work in the broad field of music in modern times.


Your written work will consist of a mixture between homework, quizzes, exams, 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 exam will have its own grade. You can also look up your grades to date on Canvas, where information will be posted periodically in a spreadsheet. Grades are listed via an assigned alias to protect your privacy.


Attendance: 10%

Meaningful attendance (see class participation below) goes hand-in-hand with better learning and retention. Being in a classroom community on a regular basis can deepen one's experience with the material, where we can interact, ask questions, listen to music and each other, make connections, and give/get support.


After the first week, at the beginning of class, there will be a sign-in sheet sitting on the piano. Latecomers can check in with me at the end of class. For Friday remote/Zoom meetings, I will take attendance. You are NOT required to have your camera on for remote meetings. You can have three unexcused absences before it starts counting against your grade. Three unexcused late arrivals will count as one unexcused absence.


There are all kinds of good/reasonable excuses for missing class or being late, such as: religious holidays, being sick, caring for someone who is sick, a family emergency, occasional professional obligation, transportation problems, mental health concerns, etc. If you miss class or are late and have an excuse, I ask that you inform me as soon as possible (email is best). Out of respect for your privacy, if the excuse feels personal in nature, you do not have to be too specific. Similarly, I do not require doctor's notes and the like. We will rely on the honor system should you need to explain an absence or late arrival, but you need to address it somehow or will not count as excused.



Class Participation/Communication/Meeting: 5%

Participation means arriving/joining on time (unless it is beyond your control), being fully present and engaged, not behaving in a distracted or distracting manner, and very-importantly, treating others with respect. Please practice professional-level communication during class, and in written correspondence. There is also one required one-to-one meeting you will have with me (in person, or via Zoom) so I can learn more about you and your musical goals; it can be your chance to ask me any questions too. We will schedule these early in the semester.


Keyboard Demonstration: 5% (audio)

This can be done in person, or via an emailed video (or link to a video)


Midterm Exam (in class): 10%

Details TBA - it will be open-note


Final Exam (in class): 10%

Details TBA - it will be open-note


Homework: 60%

Homework (on paper) is due on the day announced, by the end of class. It will consist of mainly small analysis and composition-style exercises. Advance notification requesting an extension is fine in most cases, but unnotified late assignments are not automatically accepted. Please staple multiple-page assignments so nothing gets lost. The lowest two grades will be dropped (does not apply to smaller assignments like the alto clef and notation drills assignments). Homework collaboration option.


Assignments due on remote days (Fridays):


  will be due by noon (12pm) on the stated due date via email


  the typical procedure for turning in assignments via email will be to send a photo or scan of the page(s) (pic, jpeg, pdf, etc.), or an mp3 audio file


Please label your file(s) before sending, using the following type of formatting:

  • first name_assignment name_page number* (*if necessary)
  • for example: “jono_1st_species.pdf” or “jono_ch3_p1”, “jono_ch3_p2.pdf” for multiple page assignments
  • in your email, include the assignment title in the subject line – please do not reply to an unrelated thread with an attached assignment; it could be overlooked
  • work will be emailed back to you with annotations/comments and a percentage grade
  • keep a folder/archive of all returned work


Redo Policy: Unless otherwise specified, I encourage you to redo any homework assignment that gets less than a 93%. The score of the redone version of the assignment will at the very least 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 unless otherwise arranged.


Redoing an assignment means that you either make clear corrections on the original assignment, or you submit a copied-over, corrected version of the original assignment on a separate piece of paper. For the latter, please attach 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 exams or quizzes, which cannot be redone.



There are no scheduled quizzes, but quizzes might be incorporated if deemed necessary.


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


Missed assignments, exams or quizzes: in the event of an unforeseen absence, make-up exams or assignment-extensions will be granted for extenuating circumstances on an individual basis. It is important that you notify me as soon as possible in cases like this.


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


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.


Letter grade breakdown by percentage points:

A = 93-100; A- = 90-92; B+ = 89-87; B = 86-83; B- = 82-80; C+ = 79-77; C = 76-73; C- = 72-70; D+ = 69-76; D = 66-63; D- = 62-60; F = 59-0


Student Support

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:

Miscellaneous Don'ts

Students may not capture audio, photos or video from class sessions on their own devices without explicit permission of the instructor and everyone present, unless part of a DPRC-authorized accommodation. Students may not post any course materials to any third-party sites or post any recordings, screenshots, audio or chat transcripts in any settings outside the class. Violations of this are subject to student disciplinary action.

Attendance and Remote Classroom Guidelines

Attendance is factored into your grade as stated above. It is your responsibility to get notes from any class you miss. Disruptive, distracting, or disrespectful behavior will not be tolerated and may result in you being asked to leave the classroom or a remote meeting (if the lecture is remote). 


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. I will respond to emails with 24 hours.

Revisions to this Syllabus

The syllabus (including assignments, exam, 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.  Please 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, or via a tablet (i.e. by hand). Assignments using computer notation are not acceptable, unless arranged in advance. 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.

Printing Materials for Class

Please plan to print required materials/assignments 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 (only during remote instruction). All materials will be available through the web syllabus (and occasionally Canvas & emails) and will be PDF files.

Cool WWW links

Check this space for extracurricular links (mostly YouTube) - it will be updated on an ongoing basis, with newer links at the top


Counterpoint For Metal Guitar - a bit goofy, but perhaps entertaining. (8/27)

Undertale Soundtrack (8/24)

Joe McPhee: Shakey Jake - the improvised/less-organized counterpoint between the two saxophones begins around 1:20 (8/16)

Examples of counterpoint in a variety of modern songs (8/16)

Hop Sauce: Foots excerpt - featuring the saxophone and guitar (and sometimes keys) in improvised/less-organized counterpoint (8/16)

Minecraft: Soggy Swamp - starts at the 1:50 mark and lasts about 30 seconds (8/16)

Joni Mitchell discussing her approach to composing (8/16)

How to compose 1:1 counterpoint - a very thorough discussion (8/16)



(Week No.)

Week of

Class Topics, Downloadable Notes , and Helpful Links

Assignments, and items to print (or just download)

for that week with specific due day

Assignments marked with ** are not dropped in the final grade tabulation


Aug 21

Class organization, Course overview; Getting to know each other; Working with the Alto Clef, Other C-Clefs and Intervals


Example of a very old C-clef from the 11th century (audio)

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

(F) Print/Download: Cantiones duarum vocum:

C clef version with lyrics, G clef version (audio); Oculus non vidit


Aug 28

Introduction to Species Counterpoint

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

(M) Complete, but do not submit: first 10 measure of Cantiones duarum vocum with the harmonic intervals (just the interval numbers) analyzed between the parts as exemplified in the first three measures

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

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


Sept 4


Cantus Firmus

Cantus Firmus Audio Examples

Cantus Firmus Errors List

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

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

(F) Submit: Notation assignment I: print this link** or copy onto staff paper. On staff paper, separate the exercises with a blank staff system. Refer to pp. 290-92 in the Notation Dictionary.


Sept 11

Cantus Firmus cont'd

General Melody

(M) Submit: Satin Doll Melody assignment (audio)




Sept 18

Cantus Firmus cont'd

Species Counterpoint Errors List

First Species

More first species examples (good and bad)

   GOOD first species (audio)

   BAD first species (audio)

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

(M) Submit: Melody Writing Exercise


(F) Submit: Cantus Firmus exercise


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


Sept 25

First Species cont'd

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

(Sat) Keyboard Demonstration via video (it may be easiest to make two video files, one for the left hand, and one for the right hand)   (audio)


Oct 2

Second Species  (audio)

Reading Sheet: 2nd Species

(M) Keyboard Demonstration; in-person-option

Read: 2nd species lecture notes

(W) Submit: First Species exercise

(F) Submit: Notation assignment II**

Refer to pp. 262-68 & 305 in the Notation Dictionary.


Oct 9

Second Species cont'd

Read: 3rd Species lecture notes

(M) Submit: Second Species Analysis and Preparation  (audio)


Oct 16

(M) Midterm Exam

Third Species  (audio)

Reading Sheet: 3rd Species

(M) Midterm Exam (in class, open-note)

Midterm exam preparation guide

(W) Submit: Second Species exercise


Oct 23

Third Species cont'd

(M) Submit: Third Species Analysis and Preparation  (audio)


Oct 30

Fourth Species  (audio)

Reading Sheet: 4th Species

(W) Submit: Third Species exercise 

Read: 4th Species lecture notes


Nov 6

Fourth Species cont'd

Fifth Species  (audio)

More 5th species examples  (audio)

Reading Sheet: 5th Species


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

Read: 5th Species lecture notes


Nov 13

Fifth Species cont'd

(W) Submit: Fourth Species exercise

(F) Extra credit assignment - optional



November 20-24: Fall Recess, No Classes



Nov 27

Free Counterpoint (an introduction)

Reading Sheet: Free counterpoint

Example: (score) (audio)

Another example: (score)  (audio)

Canon & Imitation (an introduction)

Canon examples

Bach Canon

(M) Submit: Fifth Species Analysis and Preparation  (audio)

Read: Lecture notes on Free Counterpoint

(W) Submit: Notation assignment III**

(you may write your answer on a separate piece of staff paper – notate NEATLY and separate your systems with a blank staff system). Refer to pp. 186-91 in the Notation Dictionary.

Read: Lecture notes on Canon & Imitation


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


Dec 4

Culminating Perspectives

Further Explorations


(M) Submit: Fifth Species exercise



Dec 11

(M, Dec 11, 10:15a – 12:15p): Final Exam (in class, open-note)



Due by Wednesday, Dec 13, noon