chapter  7
26 Pages

The Origin of True Four-Voice Counterpoint in England

EDITOR'S PREFACE: Professor Apfel's concern with compositional techniques gained new impetus from his research into medieval English music, the results of which were published in 1959. The selection translated here comprises a reworked form of some of that material. In essence, it is devoted to comparing procedures of counterpoint in England and on the Continent from the late thirteenth century through the early fifteenth. The contrapuntal paradigms Apfel had previously developed playa large role in his assessments, and again he takes a large number of surviving pieces into consideration. An important point developed here is the differentiation between dispensable and indispensable voice parts, which leads the author to conclude that Continental composers routinely realized multi-voice counterpoint through additive procedures of composition, whereas in England "the subsequent addition of parts to a lesser-voice piece was hardly ever practiced."