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Music 231

Species Counterpoint–Spring Semester 2022


MWF 9:00-9:50am, CA136 (online until 2/14)


Instructor: Jono Kornfeld


Office Hours (CA 166F): M & W, 11:00a-12:00p; and other times by appointment


email link


Graduate Assistant: Alexa Thanos; email link


Remote Learning Procedures





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.

Essential Dictionary of Music Notation


Alfred Publishing Company, Inc

ISBN 9780882847306


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 1500s. 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, 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 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%

I hope you can attend all classes and participate, but attendance is not required, nor factored into your grade.  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 (via Zoom) so I can learn more about you and your musical goals. This will be scheduled early in the semester.


Keyboard Demonstration: 5% (audio)


Midterm Exam (in class): 10%

Details TBA


Final Exam (in class): 15%

Details TBA


Homework: 65%

Homework (on paper) is due on the day announced, by the end of class (via email by 11:59pm during remote instruction). 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.


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 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 that you submit a copied-over, corrected version of the original assignment on a separate piece of paper. For the latter, please 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 exams, which cannot be redone.


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


Missed assignments or exams: 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.


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 factored into your grade, but strongly encouraged. Any Zoom lectures 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, or via a tablet. Assignments using computer notation are not acceptable. 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 Essential Dictionary of Music Notation.

Printing Materials for Class

You should plan to be able 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. 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

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


Jan 24

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

G clef version (audio)

Oculus non vidit


Jan 31

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 (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 7

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.

(Sat) review redos due


Feb 14


Cantus Firmus cont'd

General Melody

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

Do not submit in class; submit electronically by 11:59pm




Feb 21

Cantus Firmus cont'd

Species Counterpoint Errors List

First Species

   GOOD first species (audio)

   BAD first species (audio)

More first species examples (good and bad)

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)


Feb 28

First Species cont'd

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

(F) Keyboard Demonstration in person or via video (it may be easiest to make two video files, one for the major-key cantus, and one for the minor-key cantus)


March 7

Second Species  (audio)

Reading Sheet: 2nd Species

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.


March 14

Second Species cont'd

Read: 3rd Species lecture notes

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

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

Midterm exam reparation guide


March 21-25: Spring Recess, No Classes



March 28

Third Species  (audio)

Reading Sheet: 3rd Species

(W) Submit: Second Species exercise


April 4



Third Species cont'd

(M) Submit VIA EMAIL (due by 11:59pm - remember to label your file with your name): Third Species Analysis and Preparation  (audio)

Read: 4th Species lecture notes


April 11

Fourth Species  (audio)

Reading Sheet: 4th Species


(M) Submit: 2nd species redos (optional)

(W) Submit: Third Species exercise 

Read: 5th Species lecture notes


April 18

Fifth Species  (audio)

More 5th species examples  (audio)

Reading Sheet: 5th Species

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

(W) Extra credit assignment

(F) Submit: Fourth Species exercise

Read: Lecture notes on Free Counterpoint



April 25

Fifth Species cont'd

Free Counterpoint

Reading Sheet: Free counterpoint

Example: (score) (audio)

Another example: (score)  (audio)

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




May 2

Free Counterpoint cont'd

Canon & Imitation

Canon examples

Bach Canon

(M) Submit: Fifth Species exercise


Read: Lecture notes on Canon & Imitation


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


May 9

Culminating Perspectives

Further Explorations


(M) 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.


May 16

(W, May 18, 8:00 – 10am): Final Exam (in class, open-note)



Due by Friday, May 20