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Alot of great musicians today are influenced by classical music, whatever genre they play. One technique common in classical music (and not so often used in pop) is the counterpoint.

Counterpoint harmonies were born in the Baroque and Renaissance Era, where music had multiple distinct melodic lines – each able to stand on its own – combined together to form harmony. Counterpoint Harmonies are sometimes complex melodic arrangements, what some people would call a “symphony”.

A Fugue is a music form popularized during the Baroque Era that uses counterpoints. Please listen to the explanation below:



Counterpoint generally involves musical lines with strong independent identities, focusing on melodic interaction first and only second the chords and harmonies produced by that interaction. It has different voices forming their own separate melodies: (many of) their notes are produced at different times and in different duration. 


Some people say counterpoint is common in modern music - in the loose sense of the definition and of course not as strict as 17th century counterpoint.

What is not a Counterpoint: Note that in some songs, there are two independent lines but the other line is simply an arpeggio pattern that serves as accompaniment to the main melody. Remember that in counterpoint there is an emphasis on independence. Even if one line is more interesting and attracts more attention (which is very often the case), the other line still should sound good on its own. For a very good explanation, please see Musictut's guide to Counterpoints in instrumental and vocal melodies.

One of the ways to distinguish a counterpoint in a song is to listen to the instrumental track, or even the track of each instrument in the song.

Do you have a song that features counterpoint melodies? Of so, please send it here and earn a huge amount of Points.

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FEATURED VIDEOS

J.S. Bach - the "King of Counterpoint". The Fugue technique was highly developed in his hands, and defined the Baroque Era of music.


Check out this Youtube channel, Art of Counterpoint, where counterpoint harmonies are created from typical pop songs.


The Gentle Giant band uses fugal elements in some areas of this song. You can hear the different instruments playing similar or imitated melodies intertwined.


Rightly so, this song by Muse was inspired by Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. As you can see, the bass also holds a unique melody in relation to the vocals and guitars. This happens in alot of songs by Muse. Listen to this.


In this song by Paul Gilbert and Racer X, it is clearly seen how the guitar and bass clearly have similar melodic lines happening mostly in parallel motion.


This song by Queen uses simple counterpoint in vocals at the latter end of the song. You can hear it in the way different voice alternately answer each other and merge as the song progresses.


This song by Simon and Garfunkel is sung in counterpoint with “Canticle,” an anti-war song written by Paul Simon. Two songs playing against each other.


In this song by Paul Gilbert and Racer X, it is clearly seen how the guitar and bass clearly have similar melodic lines happening mostly in parallel motion.


The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir is a 270-voice choir and has already won six Grammy Awards in the past. At the bridge of this song is a simple play of three counterpoints by soprano, alto, and tenor voices.


The start and the bridge of this song is an interesting play of vocal harmonies with the keyboards. The song is written by Todd Rundgren, a prolific songwriter known to experiment in all kinds of music styles.


A timeless classic, this song is Brian Wilson's masterpiece. Aside from using odd chord progressions, the song is filled with beautiful counterpoint vocal harmonies.


The start and the bridge of this song is an interesting play of vocal harmonies with the keyboards. The song is written by Todd Rundgren, a prolific songwriter known to experiment in all kinds of music styles.


If you listen to this instrumental version of a hit by Jackson 5, you can hear unique melodic lines from all kinds of instruments in the song: the bass, the strings, guitar, others.


Another amazing songwriter, Jeff Lynne of the Electric Light Orchestra uses counterpoints in a number of vocal sections in this song, but most notably at the latter end.


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