Aug 26, 2022 • 4M

#640 — Yao counterpoint 复调瑶族曲

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Wu Fei 吴非
Fresh improvised and composed music from Wu Fei every day of the week.

Yesterday, I received a dear subscriber’s email asking tips about how to work on counterpoint music. He watched the video (below) that I made for self-counterpoint practice. I must say that counterpoint music is one of the more complex music forms in terms of composition and practice. The foundation to play/sing/compose counterpoint is ear training from my own experience. Being able to hear what is going on with one melody while trying to respond effectively and coherently is an immense task. I came up with a simple example in today’s post — using a folk melody from the Yao people as a motive, and then using strict canon first, then non-strict canon as the counterpoint parts. I have known the melody since I was a kid. This melody has been arranged to many versions such as solo guzheng, solo pipa, solo ruan, traditional Chinese ensemble and symphony orchestra etc. The Yao people are one of the ethnic minorities in China and reside in the mountainous terrain of the southwest and south.

I studied counterpoint music intensely (analyzed a lot of Bach’s compositions) during my high school and college years at the China Conservatory of Music. It has had profound impact to my composing and how I listen to music. I will spend more time in my future newsletters to share more about counterpoint music studies and experiences. Once again, ear training is a foundation. I’d suggest to sing and play from one single melody (preferably slow melody) as a start. Record yourself on a phone or a computer, then sing/play the same melody to the recorded track four beats later, or two beats later if its time signature is in 4/4 or 2/4 . Well, you’ve got yourself a homework now :)

Wish you all a restful weekend!

Wu Fei 吴非
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