It is a few minutes past midnight
on Saturday night.

I try to be very careful
with my useage of words.

I was taught long ago
that in order to communicate effectively
with language
that one must speak,
using the words
which the listener
would be likely to use.

We are taught to be careful
not to use too much technical jargon.

Every member of every profession
has a secret language
that only the members of the group
and can speak
to one another by means of.

It is intended
that outsiders NOT know
the meanings of the terms.

For insiders only!

Because you must EARN THE RIGHT
to use the terms properly
and effectively,
which means you must educate yourself
regarding the matter
if you want to speak with persons
who use the terminology on a regular basis.

So, I was a little bit embarrassed
when I realized
that I was throwing around the word "contrapuntal"
while assuming that all of who read this
know what that means.

As I was considering the matter
just a little bit,
I remembered that there was a time
when I heard this word,
over and over again,
and had no idea what it meant.

Because it is a word
you are likely to hear me use a lot,
I thought it best
if I explained here and now.

is the verb form of

Counterpoint means
"point against point",
as in
one point
"counter to"
another point.

One can readily see
that the "contra"
corresponds to the "counter",
while the "puntal"
corresponds to "point".

contrapuntal means
to be doing counterpoint.

what exactly is "counterpoint"?

a brief bit of history and theory
is required
in order to comprehend more fully.

Music compositions divide into
two very basic classes.

They are "homophonic music"
and "polyphonic music".

One person singing with a guitar
will be homophonic.

While two persons with a guitar,
singing in harmony with one another,
will by polyphonic.

Homo means one.

Poly means more than one (or many).

Phonic refers to sound.

So, what is being described are lines of sound.

One line of sound is homophonic.

Two lines of sound are polyphonic.

More than two lines are also polyphonic.

Music originally consisted of vocal chants.

These are homophonic compositions.

As time went on
and various singers of players
would come together and form harmonies,
the homophonic gave way to the polyphonic,
which came to something of a height
during the 1700s.

With the advent of operatic music,
homophony was once again in vogue.

While there would still be duos, and trios, and choruses,
almost all of the songs
went back to their very homophonic roots.

With the advent of the popular song
the music continued with homophony,
in place of polyphony.

the only polyphony
that will truly be written as such
is for choir, strings, and organ, and modern orchestra.

one does not think
in terms of harmonies and melodies,
but, rather,
multiple melodies,
each able to stand alone by itself
while still making good musical sense.

This led to the rather useless
"academic" (pedantic?) arguments
as to whether J.S. Bach
is a homophonic
or polyphonic composer,
given that his "polyphony"
seems to have arisen out of the harmonies
(i.e. chords),
instead of consisting of melodies
being truly independent of one another.

I believe that this is always a problem with polyphony,
due to the fact that,
point is against point.

Two points
(i.e. the representation of two  musical notes,
on a page of paper)
make an INTERVAL.

Three or more points
make multiple intervals,
which makes a CHORD.

at the junctures
where notes harmonize (or not)
with one another
there will be harmonies,
or implied
or inferred harmonies,
almost continuously.

the study of counterpoint
or contrapuntal technique
is the study of spacing
the individual
points against points
in such a manner
as to make a pleasing (or not) sound,
in a controlled manner.

And there you have it for now.

Good night and may God bless.

Know that you are in my prayers continuously,
all day and all night.



42 minutes after midnight 
Ventura, California, USA