Skip to main content

Section 30.5 Fourth Species Counterpoint

Fourth species deals with writing suspensions (and syncopations). Because this is only a brief introduction to species counterpoint, you will only encounter the cantus firmus in the lower voice in fourth species in this text. See the fourth species rules below.

  1. Start with a half rest, then write a half note an 8ve above the cantus firmus. The half note on the 3rd beat of every measure but the penultimate one ties across the barline to a half note on the first beat of the succeeding measure.

  2. End on a whole note at the interval of an 8ve above the cantus firmus.

  3. The penultimate measure should contain a 7–6 suspension.

  4. The half note on the third beat of each measure is always a consonance.

  5. If the half note after a tie is a dissonance (4th or 7th), it is a suspension and must resolve down by step.

    1. Allowable suspensions in the upper part are 4–3 and 7–6; 9–8 and 2–1 are not allowed.

  6. If the half note after the tie is a consonance (1, 3, 5, 6, 8), it is a syncopation and can be left in any manner (by step or leap in any direction).

Notice that all suspensions and syncopations are labeled and all dissonant intervals are circled.

Go to Fourth Species Practice Exercises.