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Music 231

Species Counterpoint–Spring Semester 2021

MWF 9:00-9:50a


Instructor: Jono Kornfeld





Online Office Hours: M & W, 11:30a-12:30p (appointment necessary); and other times by appointment

email link


Graduate Assistant: Forrest Ballman, email link


Remote Learning Procedures




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; This course is a prerequisite for MUS 232


This course will focus on melody-based music, particularly that of the 16th century (Renaissance era) vocal style associated with Western Europe. We will concentrate on two-part contrapuntal (aka voice-lead) textures, mainly relying on the Species Counterpoint method of study, which has been around since the 1700s. The goal of this class is to expand your theoretical and aural vocabularies as related to both centuries-old Western European, and more recent music, such as jazz, rock and pop. Through a careful study of voice leading, we will 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 various contrapuntal features in music, and/or compose music based on contrapuntal procedures.


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. In some circumstances, the meeting can be substituted with an email exchange.


Keyboard Performance Demonstration: 5%

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


Final analysis/composition project: 15%

Details TBA


Quizzes: 25%

In lieu of midterm and final exams, there will be approximately 9 quizzes. They will be announced in advance.  Quizzes should take between 5-10 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.  The lowest grade will be dropped. Quizzes must be submitted via email by 11:59pm on the due date. Quizzes cannot be redone.


Homework: 50%

Homework (mainly small analysis and composition-style exercises) is due on the day announced, via email by 11:59pm. Late assignments will not be accepted unless otherwise specified, but reasonable excuses are ok in most 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 a 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

(day covered–"M, W, F")

Assignments, and items to print (or just download)

for that week with specific due day


Jan 25

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

(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


Feb 1

Introduction to Counterpoint (MWF)

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)


Feb 8

Cantus Firmus  (MWF)

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)


Feb 15

Cantus Firmus cont'd (MWF)

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




Feb 22

First Species (MWF)

   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

(M) Submit: Cantus Firmus exercise

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

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

(W) 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)

(F) Submit: First Species Analysis  (audio)


March 1

First Species cont'd (M)

Second Species (WF)

2nd Species Audio Examples

Reading Sheet: 2nd Species

Read: 2nd species lecture notes

(F) Submit: First Species exercise


March 8

Second Species cont'd (MWF)

(W) Submit: Second Species Analysis  (audio)

(F) Quiz


March 15

Third Species (MWF)

3rd Species Audio Examples

Reading Sheet: 3rd Species

(M) Submit: 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: 3rd Species lecture notes

(W) Submit: Second Species exercise


March 22 – 26: Spring Recess, No Classes



March 29

Third Species continued (M)

No Class, Cesar Chavez Day (W)

Fourth Species (F)

4th Species Audio Examples

Reading Sheet: 4th Species

(M) Submit: Third Species Analysis  (audio)

Read: 4th Species lecture notes


(F) Submit: Third Species exercise


April 6

Fourth Species continued(MWF)

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

(F) Extra credit assignment

Read: 5th Species lecture notes


April 12

Fifth Species (MWF)

5th Species Audio Examples

More 5th species examples  (audio)

Reading Sheet: 5th Species

(W) Submit: Fourth Species exercise


April 19

Fifth Species cont'd (MW)

Free Counterpoint (F)

Reading Sheet: Free counterpoint

Example: (score) (audio)

Another example: (score)  (audio)

(M) Submit: Fifth Species Analysis  (audio)

Read: Lecture notes on Free Counterpoint


April 26

Discuss Final Project (audio) (M)

Free Counterpoint cont'd (MWF)

(M) Submit: Fifth Species exercise


(F) Submit: 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 3

Canon & Imitation (MWF)

Canon examples

Bach Canon

Read: Lecture notes on Canon & Imitation


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


May 10

Culminating Perspectives (MW)

Further Explorations (F)


(F) Submit: Final Project Draft

Final Project (audio)

Final Project Drafts returned (M)

(F, May 21) Submit:

Final Project (audio)



Due by Friday, May 21

Oculus non vidit score