Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Journey Through Counterpoint IX

Imitative Counterpoint
I saved the best for last (a purely subjective analysis, of course)!  I can just imagine you've been wondering, "But what about a round?  A canon?  A fugue?"  These, as well as the stretto, passacaglia, chaconne, fantasia and the ricarcar, are all rooted in imitative counterpoint.  They are probably the most well-known types of counterpoint.

In imitative counterpoint, the melodies do not begin all at once but enter at staggered times.  When they enter they usually begin with a repeated version of the first melody.  They may imitate precisely (such as in a round) or they may start by imitating and veer off into original melodies, or a combination of the two.  Imitative counterpoint is a fun game between the melodies in which they playfully copy each other, run away from each other and then try to catch each other.  The possibilities are endless.

I had all these wonderful ideas to share with you about imitative counterpoint and its many forms.  I may yet do that in future posts, but I'd like to first share a very personal narrative with you:

This is my son, Benjamin (who graciously gave me permission to share his story).  Ben is missing about 20% of his brain.  Ben's neurologist said that most kids with his same MRI scans are non-verbal and non-ambulatory. Yet Ben not only walks and talks, he received academic colours at school this year.

The interesting thing about Ben is that he learns through imitation.  He doesn't seem to be capable of original or creative thought.  He repeats everything until he's memorised and contextualised it.  There are days when it's incredibly hard to be patient with him; his repetition drives me crazy.  I have to remind myself that this is how he learns.  And he does learn.

So what does this have to do with counterpoint?  Perhaps through imitative counterpoint we learn...  We learn melodies.  We learn how to navigate tricky rhythms.  We learn how to relate to one another.  We learn how to live in community. We repeat these until we've mastered them and then we veer off to experiment and try things based upon our own original ideas.  We grow up.  But maybe, to some extent, we still learn by imitating.

I'll let you come up with your own application for this one... I'm still formulating my own, which involves a 10-year-old boy with gorgeous brown eyes.

1 comment:

wakeupcowboys said...

I'm crying. And how I miss those brown eyes.