Dissertation Index

Author: Chenette, Timothy K

Title: Counterpoint, Transformations, and Musical Spaces in the Late Sixteenth Century

Institution: Indiana University

Begun: August 2005

Completed: May 2013


This dissertation presents a systematic way of modeling contrapuntal motion and sonority relationships in late sixteenth-century music. This method uses triads not as harmonic objects but as useful representations of potential voice-leading, and tracks them through defined musical spaces with transformations. The resulting analytical systems are helpful in making observations about the rich surface relationships in this repertoire.

Littera Space, defined in Chapter 3, disregards accidentals and chromaticism, allowing the modeling of direction and voice leading in both diatonic and chromatic music. This leads to the ideas of default counterpoint, which follows principles of parsimonious voice-leading, and directional counterpoint, which moves in a consistent direction. Directional counterpoint and its uses are explored in Chapter 4. Acoustic Space, then, reintroduces accidentals, and incorporates aspects of diatonic system membership and other sonority relationships to approximate how far apart two sonorities will sound to a stylistically-informed listener. This space, and a broader investigation of chromatic sonority relationships, are the subjects of Chapter 5.

Chapters 6—9 enrich these theoretical discussions with analyses of music both diatonic and chromatic. Analyses of Palestrina’s Lamentations and Zarlino’s Pater noster demonstrate the ability of these methods to find and model interesting details within both relative simplicity and almost undifferentiated complexity. An analysis of one of Gesualdo’s Tenebrae Responsories demonstrates a unique approach to chromaticism. Finally, an analysis of motets from Lassus’s Prophetiae Sibyllarum shows that not all accidentals will necessarily sound strange.

Keywords: Counterpoint, Renaissance, Transformations, Spaces, Triads, Zarlino, Palestrina, Gesualdo, Lassus


1. Introduction
2. The Triad as Analytical Object
3. Two Musical Spaces
4. Directional Counterpoint
5. Chromaticism
6. Palestrina’s Four-Voice Lamentations
7. Zarlino, Pater noster
8. Gesualdo, Tenebrae Responsories, Responsory I
9. Lassus, Prophetiae Sibyllarum
10. Conclusion


319 N 200 E
Logan, UT 84321

     Return to dissertations