I’ve been slowly trying to develop a list of the basic principles or ideals of counterpoint as I see it (as a radical, emancipatory, and abstract art). I can so far identify six. Each of these can be found in different eras of composition, but I’m not sure if they’ve all been put together as I’m attempting.
- Equality of parts: All parts are potentially equal for perception, no part has an a priori significance – and a work should demonstrate this equality.
- Divisibility of parts: Each part is itself divisible into parameters that are at least logically independent of each other.
- Transmutability of parts: Any part can potentially become another other part, either partially, in only some parameters, or (this is an ideal, and asymptotic goal) wholly, in every parameter. The point of a work is also to demonstrate this possible fluidity.
- Liberated space: The work bases itself on a set of parameters that is exterior (at least in its basic concept) to conventional structures.
- Worldly dimensions: The work should demonstrate the full scope from minimal to maximal values of its chosen parameters, each musical ‘object’ reciprocally determining each other within the field of relations.
- Experience of determination: The work should explore the intensity of appearing of the determinations of values from one to the other, this becomes a principle dictating not only vertical texture-types, but also the horizontal placement of the musical elements.
These of course need further refinement, and I’ll need to articulate their interrelationships a little better, but I’m quite happy with the basic formulation, and quite convinced of its necessity.