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Norges musikkhøgskole Norwegian Academy of Music Search

Par­ti­mento and Coun­ter­point

  • Year of study: Year 1, over two semesters.
  • Final assessment: Assessment from the course instructor.
  • Prerequisites: Admission to the Master of Music in Music Theory Programme.
  • Language of instruction: Norwegian or English.

Course description

The course investigates counterpoint as a fundamental element in Western art music. The focus is on Renaissance vocal polyphony and baroque counterpoint, and the course takes the form of practical piano exercises and written work.

Learning objectives

On completion of this course, the student is expected to

  • be able to play and vary two and three-part cadences and harmonic progressions in accordance with the rule of the octave
  • be able to apply fundamental principles for figured bass in exercises and short pieces (partimenti)
  • be able to reproduce contrapuntal progressions by ear both vocally and
  • be able to perform a fugue exposition
  • master voice leading and dissonance in two and three-part counterpoint both in practice and in writing
  • possess knowledge of melody creation, voice leading, use of text and the principles of imitation in the 16th-century polyphonic vocal style
  • be able to create two and three-part motets in a 16th-century polyphonic vocal style
  • master fundamental counterpoint methodology in practice and in writing


  • Piano exercises.
  • Vocal counterpoint exercises.
  • Melody exercises.
  • Exercises in two and three-part scoring using the principles of 16th-century vocal polyphony.
  • Partimento analysis.
  • Analysis of polyphonic vocal arrangements from the Renaissance.
  • Counterpoint in other styles and genres such as jazz, folk music and popular music.


The student is automatically registered for tuition/supervision and assessment in the subject in line with the progression set out in the study plan.

Course requirements

  1. Partimento: The student will perform 10 practical exercises during the course, normally on the piano.
  2. Written counterpoint: The student will submit 10 written exercises during the course. Submission dates to be set by the course instructor.

Deadline: All course requirements must have been met by 15 April.

Final assessment

All course requirements must be met in order for the student to be given a final assessment.

The student will be judged on the basis of the learning objectives for the course. The final assessment is expressed in the form of a pass/fail and is determined by the course coordinator on the basis of an overall evaluation of the learning outcomes achieved by the student during the course.


The same rules apply to reassessments as to ordinary assessments.

Study component

Published: Apr 3, 2020 — Last updated: Sep 7, 2022