Contemporary Counterpoint

Theory and Application

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  • Suggested Retail Price: $$19.99
  • Format: Book with Online Audio
  • Pages: 184
  • Dimensions: 9x12
  • Audio Tracks: 77
  • ISBN: 9780876391839
  • SKU: 00147050
  • Publication Date: September 15, 2017

Related Online Courses & Programs


Gain a broad overview of counterpoint and the art of writing lines that support both the melody and the overall structure of a composition - essential information for singers, songwriters, composers, guitarists and musicians from all backgrounds.

Specialist Music Theory Certificate Program

A solid understanding of music theory is no mere academic exercise but a common language that will enable you to concisely communicate with other musicians, a core component of any collaborative endeavor with music. From basics like reading and writing music notation and using scales to advanced topics such as modal and pentatonic melodies and harmonic tensions, you’ll leave this program with a concrete foundation in music. As a result, you’ll approach your next project with a full set of tools and much more confidence.

Master Theory, Harmony, and Ear Training Certificate Program

This program will help you gain a professional command of the mechanics behind most of the contemporary music that you enjoy.

Professional Producing Music for Film and Television Certificate Program

Scoring for film or television demands a diverse set of skills. You must be able to write music on demand while working with click tracks and cues so that the music synchronizes with the picture and helps bring the story to life. In this certificate program, Berklee’s world-class instructors will teach you all of this and more to give you an advantage in this competitive field.

Use counterpoint to make your music more engaging and creative. Counterpoint—the relationship between musical voices—is among the core principles for writing music, and it has been central to the study of composition for many centuries. Whether you are a composer, arranger, film composer, orchestrator, music director, bandleader, or improvising musician, this book will help to hone your craft, gain control, and lead you to new creative possibilities. You will learn “tricks of the trade” from the masters and apply these skills to contemporary styles.

Online audio examples illustrate the principles being discussed, and many recommended listening lists point you to additional examples of how these principles have been used in music over the past thousand years.

You will learn how to:

  • Create strong and independent melodies
  • Develop motifs into larger melodic structures
  • Understand “species counterpoint,” and how to adapt it to contemporary writing
  • Develop your music’s internal textures and relationships between voices, to create interest and engagement
  • Use specific types of canons as the baseline architecture for works, such as in crab, inversion, and mensuration canons
  • Integrate contrapuntal techniques into your writing, such as ostinatos, melodic imitation, and rhythmic counterpoint
  • Explore counterpoint in contemporary practice, from jazz to aleatoric styles





“Beth Denisch’s expertise and love of composition shine through in this clearly written, elegant guide to counterpoint. This book is an excellent resource that will fill in a lot of blanks for intermediate composers and offer a trove of new, easy-to-follow ideas for beginners.”

—Susan Rogers, Multi-platinum-selling engineer and producer (Prince, Barenaked Ladies, David Byrne) and auditory researcher

Contemporary Counterpoint: Theory and Application by Beth Denisch is a comprehensive look at the creativity of counterpoint. I think musicians and songwriters use many of these techniques all the time but Beth has given context to why the theory works. Well done.”

—Prince Charles Alexander, Professor of Music Production and Engineering/Commercial Record Production, Berklee College of Music

“Eloquent, precise, and approachable, Dr. Denisch’s book is counterpoint unveiled. Her ability to translate this intimidating subject is masterful. Her book is a gift to all musicians who want to deepen their understanding of counterpoint and gain new techniques to employ for their compositions.”

—Melissa Ferrick, Artist and Producer, Alt Country Album of the Year, Associate Professor of Songwriting, Berklee College of Music (Bob Dylan, Weezer, Tegan and Sarah)


Beth Denisch

Beth Denisch’s music has been performed at Moscow’s Concert Studio of Radio “Kultura,” in Russia, at Jordan Hall in Boston,…