Christoph Bernhard's Figures (= rules for dissonance usage) from his Tractatus compositionis augmentatus (1660?)
Sources: 1. Joseph Müller-Blattau, Die Kompositionslehre Heinrich Schützens in der Fassung seines Schülers Christoph Bernhard (1963)
2. Walter Hilse, "The Treatises of Christoph Bernhard," Music Forum III (1973): 1-196.
Classification of musical styles:
1. contrapunctus gravis (or antiquus; or cappella)
--this refers to the "Palestrina" style; the strict writing of the later 16th century
2. contrapunctus luxurians (or modernus)
a. contrapunctus luxurians communis
--this refers to contemporary "updating" of the c. gravis that was the common practice of the mid-17th century
b. contrapunctus luxurians theatralis (or comicus)
--this refers specifically to recitative style (or "oratorio style" as Bernhard also calls it)
In chs. 2-11, he classifies harmonic intervals and progressions. In ch. 12, paragraph 11, he identifies two types of bass cadence: harmonic (our authentic cadence) and arithmetic (plagal). In ch. 15, he gives examples of the consonant fourth and other figures that are familiar to us from special 16th century devices for cadence elaboration.
Bernhard identifies 12 modes, two each for C, D, E, F, G, A. His cadence list:
Ionian Common: C G E Less common: A F
Dorian Common: D F A Less common: G Bb
Phrygian Common: E G B Less common: A C
Lydian Common: F C A Less common: G D
Mixolydian Common: G B D Less common: C A E
Aeolian Common: A E C Less common: D G
Transpositions: Common: once transposed. Less common: twice-transposed, and up M2, M3, P5, and M6 (that is, signatures with 1 through 4 sharps).
CHS. 16-20: ON STYLUS GRAVIS (= CONTRAPUNCTUS GRAVIS)
Bernhard identifies four figures of 16th-century practice:
1. Transitus: passing tone, ascending or descending (accented notes must be consonant)
2. Quasi-transitus: accented PT, descending only (he considers nota cambiata and pairs of eighth notes to be subspecies of this). (He doesn't allow two dissonances in a row -- that is, you cannot pair an unaccented passing tone with an accented one immediately after).
3. Syncopatio: suspensions. He shows 7-6, 4-3, 9-8, says 4-5 is "not good" and 7-8 "rare." He doesn't allow the +4-3.
4. Quasi-syncopatio: repetition of note with the suspension dissonance or the portamento.
Here is a sample of how Bernhard's terms would be applied to a piece that is correct by our 16th century standards (the opening of a lute song by John Dowland, "Flow My Tears"):
Chs. 21-35: On stylus luxurians communis
Acceptable figures (in addition to the above):
5. Superjectio: escape tone or upper auxiliary, used to embellish descending scalar passages
6. Anticipatio notae: simple anticipation, deriving from the portamento. Most often descending as in the example below, but can be ascending.
7. Subsumtio: escape tone below (the second and the third below are okay) to embellish ascending scalar passages or cadences: (Gauldin mentions
8. Variatio or passagio: diminution
9. Multiplicatio: splitting the dissonance by repeating tones
10. Prolongatio: dissonance longer than the preceding consonance (used in suspension figures, rarely with passing tones)
11. Syncopatio catachrestica: irregular suspensions
a. movement to d5 in the accompanying voice
b. d5 on the preparation
c. resolution tone replaced by fifth below (or embellished by third below)
13. Passus duriusculus: irregular melodic movements
a. series of chromatic steps
b. leaps of +2, +4, +5. He says none of these is common. -- about +2 as harmonic interval, see no. 18 below
14. Saltus duriusculus: irregular leaps
a. descending leap of m6
b. ascending leap of m6 from an accidental
c. ascending or descending d4
d. descending d5 -- not ascending
e. descending d7 -- not ascending (and not in choral music, only solo parts) -- but see no. 18 below
15. Mutatio toni: mode mixture [We can disregard this -- he is talking about, for example, entry intervals at the beginning that do not correspond with the mode of the end of a composition; or about internal cadences to unusual degrees.]
16. Inchoatio imperfecta: beginning with an imperfect consonance
17. Longinqua distantia: wide separation of voices (continuo of course makes up for this with improvised inner voices)
18. Consonantiae impropriae: harmonic intervals of the P4, +4, d5, +5 (he says that d7 and +2 are used in recitative style only). P4 allows the consonant fourth of Gauldin. d5 means that a diminished 5/3 is possible. He gives only one example of +4:
He mentions d4, but only for inner voices (in the +6/3).
19. Quaesitio notae: a "cut-off" note -- note shortened so that the remaining value can be used to place a second below the note on the following beat. This covers several auxiliaries and anticipations. Furthermore, his example is from recitative style:
20. Cadentiae duriusculae: irregular cadences (solo works only) -- dissonances prepare for the cadence. Should be generally avoided. His examples show what we would call a ii7 chord preceding a dominant in a cadence to harmonize ^3-^2-^1.
Chs. 35-42: On stylus theatralis
Acceptable figures (in addition to the above):
21. Extensio: lengthening of the dissonance through extended multiplicatio (no.9); inner parts played by continuo are consonant with the solo part.
22. Ellipsis: omission of the consonance in suspension or passing or neighbor figures or another consonance struck instead. Under no. 19 above, the eighth rest (missing C) is an ellipsis. For example, in the 4-3, the 3 can be replaced or even omitted:
23. Mora: suspension with a rising resolution. His examples, however, do not show true ascending resolutions, but what are really escape tones above the suspension dissonance:
24. Abruptio: rest in the middle of a phrase (see no. 19 for an example) or elision of the final note in the solo voice in a cadence:
25. Transitus inversus: descending accented passing tone of minim value -- only used with multiplicatio (no.9)
26. Heterolopsis: descending leap to a dissonance, such that one voice seems to take figures from two.
27. Tertia deficiens: harmonic interval of +2 (see example below)
28. Sexta superflua: harmonic interval of d7 (see example below)
1. Meter: The basic beat can be either the minim or semiminim in the contrapunctus luxurians communis (I'll call it the "common style"). Dissonances most often affected by confusion of the beat level are transitus and quasi-transitus (passing tones, accented or unaccented). In highly diminished passages, the half-beat can sometimes take on the character of a beat in relation to the diminutions. The most problematic points are the third beat of a 4/2 measure and any beats in a context with many subdivided beats.
2. Rules for melodic construction are relaxed considerably (except for choral passages in sacred music), but the rules for combining voices (harmonies) still apply. When writing for solo voice and continuo, always assume a texture of three or more voices.
3. Text setting is free. Any note may carry a syllable. In common style, in fact, it's typical for each note to carry a syllable with melismas reserved for diminutions.
4. Eighth notes may be used freely in diminutions. Otherwise in pairs as in the 16th century -- okay to descend or move in neighbor figures; ascending pair is not common, and Bernhard says that it's not typical to leap from the second eighth of a pair. Single eighths are uncommon but not forbidden.
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