Counterpoint, n. The technique of combining two or more melodic lines in such a way that they establish a harmonic relationship while retaining their linear individuality.
I have a confession to make: I love studying and learning about counterpoint; I think there are so many parallels to life and practical applications beyond the musical beauty of counterpoint itself, but I don’t like this definition. Most definitions of counterpoint have reduced the art to a clinical and sterile "science" in describing it. They use a lot of big words that doesn’t really explain much. I understand, to some extent, but I also believe that music should be fun and inspiring; it is a way of telling stories. There is nothing clinical or sterile about it.
I am telling you this because I want to share what I've been learning about counterpoint and how it applies to human relationships. I have been so challenged and inspired of late. And the good news is, you don't have to be musical or have a prior knowledge of music to understand counterpoint and how it applies to every day life. So let's dive in!
Modern music – most of what we hear today – is largely homophonic. That means it has only one melody which is supported by chord structures and rhythms. If more than one singer is singing, you will perhaps hear some harmony.
Harmony can be sung above or below the melody, but it must follow and conform to the melody. It cannot stand alone. It is only there to support and enhance the melody.
First application: Do we see others as legitimate melodies, or do we force them to sing "harmony" to our own melody? Do we respect other peoples' songs or do we see them only in terms of how they support and enhance our own song?