Does this countermelody make sense?

Hi, I tried to write a few bars of melody/countermelody

It sounds good to my ears but I know there are all sorts of “rules” for countermelodies and was wondering if someone with more knowledge of theory than I have might let me know how I did and what traditional “rules” I have broken

No need to be gentle :slight_smile: I can take criticism

Thank you

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I have made some updates

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OK - I think I am progressing here in making the melody/countermelody more palatable

If anyone has any insight into what I am doing right/wrong, it would be very much appreciated - thank you

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I think your countermelody makes sense! I also think that the field of music keeps opening up so you can feel freer to express your uniqueness.

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Dori - thank you - I appreciate the feedback

I guess, being new to trying my hand at this type of writing, that I am bombarded with “rules” and then become obsessed with trying to figure out if I am violating any of those “rules”

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I know what you mean about keeping true to the rules. Then it seems to satisfy our integrity. However, I believe there are no more rules in art forms. This, at first feels disconcerting, but ultimately, I think it becomes liberating and even exhilarating.
You can probably tell that I have struggled with these concepts. Maybe lots of artists do. I think we are in a whole new reality, now, with being able to travel in space back to our early planetary beginnings, with beautiful photos, etc. When physicists are so advanced, new art forms can follow. So create, create and create, without worry.

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Words of wisdom!

I personally don’t hear what you’ve written as a countermelody so much as a harmonic supporting line. Not that it really matters what it’s called. It sounds good! And if it sounds good, it is good.



Steven - thank you. I am new to trying to compose so a lot of terms escape me

What is the difference between a countermelody and a “harmonic supporting line”?

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It’s been about 33 years since my last music theory class, so my recollections could be a little bit off. But, i think of counterpoint as typically 2 (but possibly more than 2) lines, each of which could stand alone as a melody. They are all in agreement with the chords of the music, but are otherwise independent.

In your example, the top line has a greater amount of complexity in number of notes and rhthyms than the lower line. A counterpoint would be similar in complexity to the top line, but independent melodically an rhthmically. In contrast, your lower line seems to reinforce the top line, and create a rhthmic foundation for it, rather than be in contrast to it. It could, for example, act as a bass line if you were to drop it down an octave or two. Or you could keep that lower line and add two or three more notes to each existing note to create chords.

That’s how i think of counterpoint vs a harmonic supporting line.

Hope that helps!


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I have to agree with Steven here.

It sounds fine…but it isn’t a counterpoint line. True counterpoint is the simultaneous sounding of two or more independent melody lines. I have to add though, while the adage is true, 'if it sounds good, it is, if it sounds bad, it is," I always encourage the studying of music theory. The rules aren’t there to say, “it must be done this way or else…” but rather it’s collection of knowledge that states, 'this is how music works, and iof you follow these guidelines, your music will sound good." Doesn’t mean you can’t break those rules now and then, but know WHY you’re doing it.

As far as counterpoint, the rules are complex, but outside of trying to sound like 18th-19th century classical music, the basic rules I use are:

  1. Never use unison notes
  2. Start on an octave or 5th
  3. Use mainly 3ds and 6ths as your harmonies, with passing notes on off beats
  4. No interval leaps larger than a 5th (but if you do, not larger than an octave and move down by step for the next note)
    5.Use 2-1 ratio of notes (two quarter notes against a half note, two eighths against a quarter, etc.)

It sounds intimidating, but it’s kinda fun–like putting together a musical jigsaw puzzle (though I’m hardly a master of the art :sweat_smile:)

Hope that’s helpful.


My 2 cents: Playing 1 melody against another is probably why I got into DAW recording in the first place, and what fascinates me about music, but I’ll try to keep this short. I agree with some other comments about it being more of a harmony line than a counterpoint. I don’t know if there’s a clear line between the 2, but what matters to me is how it sounds, and if I want to listen to it over and over.

For me, the goal of playing 1 line against another, is to bring out another level of beauty in at least the main melody, if not both melodies. You can make a ‘ho-mum’ melody come alive with the right melody playing against it…but not very likely by using the rules of counterpoint [in my opinion].

I once tried to learn/memorize the rules of counterpoint, but realized that working out a melody 1 note at a time would be too limiting and defeat my purpose…and rarely produce anything worth keeping. Sure you get “proper” harmony that way, but there’s a price to pay in creativity and the resulting sound.

I eventually realized that good melodies don’t work as a string of single notes, but as “figures” or sets of notes - or as whole, indivisible statements [gestalts?] rather than note sequences.
So I work from figures - or melodic statements - now, which doesn’t accommodate the counterpoint rules very well, but produces far better sounding combinations, the kind that give life to the original melody, plus a new twist, or sense of the harmony.
This approach also takes care of the need to make sure the melodies work individually, from the outset.

Since there’s no need to be gentle :face_with_hand_over_mouth:, I just realized this reminds me of a bad habit I’m trying to break. :person_gesturing_no:
That of listening over and over to something I just did, trying to decide if it’s any good… or not…as if I couldn’t tell in just 1 hearing…or wasn’t sure…or…maybe it’s good, and I missed something…or… :thinking:…or…what exactly is wrong, if anything?

I waste alot of time doing that, but I’m starting to suspect that it’s a way of chickening out on working more creatively. :bowing_man: Or just accepting that it’s not working, and moving on to find something better.

Because what I want in the end is something that sounds good/great on the very 1st listening. :dart: NOT something that you have to repeat, in the hope that it grows on you, or you eventually figure out some way that it actually DOES sound good. As dumb as that may sound :face_with_raised_eyebrow:, it’s the only way I can describe, or theorize, why I would listen repeatedly when in doubt.

But that’s often the dilemma we find ourselves in, especially if we’re amateurs, beginners; We made something that doesn’t sound bad…really… :woman_shrugging:… but wonder if we’re missing something, because…well, it doesn’t sound mind blowing either, just kind of …there…OK… :face_with_diagonal_mouth:…not terrible, but not great either.

And of course we’ve heard far worse on the radio :face_vomiting:, or other social media, :roll_eyes: so we’re kind of at a temporary loss on where we stand as musicians, or at least this one piece… and getting someone else’s opinion is about all that’s left. We don’t want to chuck something that might have value on the one hand, but if not, don’t want to waste anymore time on it. :smiling_face_with_tear:Yes, I know that feeling. :hugs: