9.2 Second Species Counterpoint: Tutorial

Second Species, 2:1

Two notes against one note

  • Passing tone and neighbor tone dissonances are permitted on weak beats (i.e. not when the two parts align).
  • As always, parallel 5ths and 8ths are not allowed, but they can be tricky to spot, see below.

Example: study the “bad” and “good” counterpoints to This Land is Your Land presented earlier, now with the vertical intervals analyzed. Note how both are a mix of First and Second Species Counterpoint, either note-against-note or two notes against one note at any given time. See where the dissonances align in inappropriate ways in the first example, but are placed judiciously according to First and Second Species rules in the second.

Bad counterpoint

Poor second species example

Good counterpoint

Good second species example




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Comprehensive Musicianship, A Practical Resource Copyright © 2023 by Randall Harlow; Heather Peyton; Jonathan Schwabe; and Daniel Swilley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.