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Academic Year: Fall/Winter 2013/2014

Term: 1

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. William Renwick


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 409

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23671


Office Hours: Office hours by appointment

Course Objectives:

Objectives: Renaissance Counterpoint 3CM3 aids students in developing musicianship through practical activities connected with making Renaissance music. Singing music, studying ancient sources of music and music theory, and writing examples in Renaissance style will develop creative abilities, writing technique, and increased knowledge of the repertoire.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:



Method of Assessment:


The following list gives a breakdown of the grading scheme for the course.

·  Eight weekly assignments: 5 marks each, total 40

·  Two-voice Motet: 10

·  Four-voice Motet: 20

·  One In-class Test: 10  Monday, October 21.

·  Final Exam: 20

·  Total: 100%

Assignments, given approximately weekly, are due one or two classes later. Assignments put into practice concepts discussed in class. Always keep your marked assignments as a record of your work.
One In-class Test: These test students' assimilation of the major topics of the course and serve as practice for the final exam.
Two-voice Motet and Four-voice Motet: These two major projects develop students' abilities to synthesize aspects of counterpoint, form, and style.
Final Exam: The final exam (2-hour) tests students' abilities at writing examples of Renaissance counterpoint. 

  • Grading Scale:

A+ 90-100 B+ 77-79 C+ 67-69 D+ 57-59

A 85-89 B 73-76 C 63-66 D 53-56

A- 80-84 B- 70-72 C- 60-62 D- 50-52

F 0-49

Assignments: Each assignment will be evaluated on the basis of content and presentation.  Always keep your marked assignments as a record of your work.

Note: Late assignments will receive a 10% reduction in grade.  After one week, late assignments will not be accepted, except in the case of a justifiable absence.

Unit 1: Scales, Modes, Hexachords, Solmization, the Hand

            Transcribing Chant,

Two-voice counterpoint, Tinctoris’ rules

Unit 2:  Two-voice counterpoint with dissonance


Unit 3: Cadence patterns

            Complementary hexachords

            White note counterpoint, text setting

Unit 4: Suspensions

Unit 5: Points of Imitation in two voices

Unit 6: Elided cadences in two voices

Unit 7: Two-voice motet.

Unit 8: three-voice counterpoint

Unit 9: Three-voice imitation

Unit 10: Analiyzing Palestrina.

Unit 11: Transcribing from part-books

Unit 12: Three-voice elision

Unit 13: Three and Four-voice motet.

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:


Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:


Resources for this course will be made available on Avenue to Learn.  Students are expected to print the relevant documents for class discussion and assignments.

Supplementary Materials in the Library:

·  Berger, Karol, Musica ficta: theories of accidental inflections in vocal polyphony from Marchetto da Padova to Gioseffo Zarlino (Cambridge, 1987).

·  Berger, Anna Maria Buss, Mensuration and proportion signs: origins and evolution (Cambridge, 1993).

·  Allaire, Gaston, The theory of hexachords, solmization, and the modal system; a practical application (Rome: American Institute of Musicology, 1972).

·  Jeppesen, Knud, Counterpoint: The Polyphonic Vocal Style of the Sixteenth Century (Prentice-Hall, 1939).

·  Gauldin, Robert, A Practical Approach to Sixteenth-Century Counterpoint (Prentice-Hall, 1985).

·  Fux, Johann Joseph, The Study of Counterpoint (Norton, 1965, original Vienna, 1725). 

Other Course Information:

  • Extensions or Accommodations

Extensions or other accommodations will be determined by the instructor and will only be considered if supported by appropriate documentation. Absences of less than 5 days may be reported using the McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF) at . If you are unable to use the MSAF, you should document the absence with your faculty office. In all cases, it is YOUR responsibility to follow up with the instructor immediately to see if an extension or other accommodation will be granted, and what form it will take. There are NO automatic extensions or accommodations.

  • Support Services

The University provides a variety of support services to help students manage their many demands. Reference librarians can provide invaluable research assistance. The Student Accessibility Services Centre (SAS) provides assistance with personal as well as academic matters. MUSC B107 and