Contrapuntal Principles and Practice: from Bach to the Present

New England Conservatory
This course explores the evolution of contrapuntal practice and its underlying theoretical principles from the Baroque era up to the twentieth century. Music to be examined includes works by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Bartók, Stravinsky, Schönberg, Webern, and Carter. Activities include analysis, composition, and reading of theoretical texts by Piston, Seeger, Krenek, and others.
Bachelor Degree succeeded.
Students deepen their understanding of tonal and atonal counterpoint in a variety of styles. Through analysis and composition, they develop an increased awareness of the interaction between horizontal and vertical structures in music, and they learn how composers have striven to control this interaction in the past 300 years.

Further information

  • assessment
    Comprehensive exam CE , Other (Homework 25%, Quizzes 25%, Midterm Project 25%, Final Pproject 25%)
  • level
    Intermediate, Advanced, Other (Contrapuntal Principles and Practice is a one-semester course offered to all students in the Master’s degree program.)
  • Completed Semester
    Both Semesters
  • How many semesters does the course last?
  • hours per week
    100' /week (15 weeks/semester)
  • Link of the course
  • Target group of course
    Instrumentalists, advanced
    Music theory students, advanced
  • credits
  • Type of Course
    Lecture, Seminar, Practice
  • Degree Level
  • Course
  • students #
    6-15 students
  • Hours per year
    • Ernst Krenek, Studies in Counterpoint Based on the Twelve-Tone Technique (Schirmer, 1940)
    • Ernst Krenek, Tonal Counterpoint (Boosey and Hawkes, 1958)
    • Walter Piston, Counterpoint (Norton, 1982)
    • Charles Seeger, Studies in Musicology II: 1929-1979 (University of California Press, 1994)
  • evaluation grid
  • evaluation grid
    and document



current position

Full-time faculty in music theory


New England Conservatory

Be a part of our european project !

This European project (KA 203 Strategic Partnership) created by Salvatore Gioveni promotes cross-border collaboration in the field of Music Theory through sharing knowledge and transferring pedagogical innovation. It thus responds to a lack of centralised source and framework to deepen reflection by means of cross-disciplinary study at European and international level.

There is a significant wealth of educational practices from one country to another in this sector, especially in terms of harmonic musical notation and analysis. However, HMEI's are facing the nonexistence of a European network for pedagogical staff in Music Theory so far. To improve the situation, the project will among other things develop several intellectual outputs such as Online Platform (IO 1), an EU Bibliography (IO 2), a Repository Courses (IO 3), a Multilingual Glossary (IO 4) and an Exchange Online Learning Platform.

Besides the Conservatoire royal de Bruxelles as leader and manager of the project, the following partner institutions are involved: Music Academy S. Moniuszki Gdańsk (Gdańsk, Poland), F. Liszt Academy of Music Budapest (Budapest, Hungary), Estonian Academy for Music and Theatre (Tallinn, Estonia), HfMTh "Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy" (Leipzig, Germany).

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