University of South Carolina
School of Music

The Counterpoint of J.S. Bach

Summer 2018

Alexander Street | Blackboard | Google Books | Grove | J.S. Bach | JSTOR | Naxos | WorldCat

C O U R S E   M O D U L E S

Counterpoint &

2. Canon
3. Invention





Bach is the beginning and end of all music.

– Max Reger

Course Documents

  1. Syllabus (coming soon)
  2. Digital Course Materials (userid/password required)

Course Description

Contrapuntal procedures in the music of J.S. Bach with an emphasis on canon, invention and fugue.
Prerequisite: Undergraduate tonal harmony and voice leading.

Recommended Textbooks (Music Library Reserve)

Thomas Benjamin, The Craft of Tonal Counterpoint, 2nd ed. (New York: Routledge, 2003). {GB}

Robert Gualdin, A Practical Approach to Eighteenth-Century Counterpoint, Revised Edition (Long Grove: IL, Waveland Press 2013). {GB}

Kent Kennan, Counterpoint, 4th ed. (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1999). {GBd}


  1. Bach-Gesellschaft Ausgabe {IMSLP}
  2. New Bach Edition {Baerenreiter}
  3. Bach Digital {Bach-digital.ed}

Digital Scores

  1. 371 Choral Harmonizations {}
  2. Canons
  3. Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 {IMSLP}
  4. Well-Tempered Clavier, Books 1-2 {IU Variations Project}
  5. Musical Offering, BWV 1079 {IMSLP}
  6. Art of Fugue, BWV 1080 {IMSLP}

Online Resources

  1. Bach Cantatas Website
  2. Edwards, Puzzle Canons
  3. Smith, The Canons and Fugues of J.S. Bach
  4. Understanding Bach Web Journal


Benjamin, Thomas. 2003. The Craft of Tonal Counterpoint, 2nd ed. New York: Routledge. {GB}

Bruhn, Siglind. 1993. J.S. Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier: In-depth Analysis and Interpretation. Hong Kong: Mainer. {GB; Website}

Burns, Lori. 1953. Bach's Modal Chorales. Pendragon Press. {GB}

Butt, John, ed. 1997. The Cambridge Companion to Bach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. {GB}

Boyd, Malcolm, ed.. 1999. Oxford Composer Companions: J.S. Bach. New York: Oxford University Press. {GB}

Chafe, Eric. 2003. Analyzing Bach Cantatas. New York: Oxford University Press. {GB}

David, Hans T. 1972. J.S. Bach's Musical Offering. Mineola, NY: Dover. {GB}

David, Hans T. and Arthur Mendel. 1966. The Bach Reader: A Life of Johann Sebastian Bach in Letters and Documents, Revised Edition. New York: Norton. {GB}

Dreyfus, Laurence. 1996. Bach and the Patterns of Invention. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. {GB}

Fux, Johann Joseph. 1725/1965. The Study of Counterpoint from Johann Joseph Fux's Gradus Ad Parnassum.
      Translated and edited by Alfred Mann. New York: W. W. Norton. {GB}

Gauldin, Robert. 2004. Harmonic Practice in Tonal Music, 2nd ed. New York: Norton. {GBd}

_____________. 2013. A Practical Approach to Eighteenth-Century Counterpoint, Revised Edition. Long Grove: IL, Waveland Press. {GB}

Hofstadter, Douglas. 1979/1999. Gödel, Escher, Bach, 20th Anniversary ed. New York: Basics Books. {GB}

Kennan, Kent. 1999. Counterpoint, 4th ed. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. {GBd}

Kerman, Joseph. 2015. The Art of Fugue: Bach Fugues for Keyboard, 17151750. Berkeley: University of California Press. {GB}

Laitz, Steven. 2015. The Complete Musician: An Integrated Approach to Tonal Theory, Analysis, and Listening, 4th ed. New York: Oxford University Press.

Ledbetter, David. 2002. Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier: The 48 Preludes and Fugues. New Haven: Yale University Press. {GB

Lester, Joel. 1992. Compositional Theory in the Eighteenth Century. Cambridge: Harvard University of Press. {GB}

Lester, Joel. 2003. Bach's Works for Solo Violin. New York: Oxford University of Press. {GB}

Mann, Alfred. 1958. The Study of Fugue. Mineola, NY: Dover. {GB}

Piston, Walter. 1947. Counterpoint. New York: Norton. {GB}

Salzer, Felix and Carl Schachter. 1989. Counterpoint in Composition: The Study of Voice Leading. New York: Columbia University Press. {GBd}

Schubert, Peter and Christoph Neidhöfer. 2006. Baroque Counterpoint. New York: Schirmer. {GBd}

Schulenberg, David. 1999. The Music of J. S. Bach: Analysis and Interpretation. Omaha: University of Nebraska Press. {GB}

Smith, Timothy A. 1996. The Canons and Fugues of J.S. Bach. Available online at <>.

Tatlow, Ruth.. 2015. Bach's Numbers: Compositional Proportion and Significance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. {GB}

Tomita, Yo , Robin A. Leaver, Jan Smaczny. 2013. Exploring Bach's B-minor Mass. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. {GB}

Walker, Paul. Theories of Fugue from the Age of Josquin to the Age of Bach. Rochester: University Rochester Press. {GB}

Williams, Peter. 2016. Bach: A Musical Biography. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. {GB}

Wolff, Christoph. 1991. The New Bach Reader: A Life of Johann Sebastian Bach in Letters and Documents. New York: Norton. {GB}

______________. 2001. The Learned Musician. New York: Norton. {GB

Yearsley, David. 2002. Bach and the Meanings of Counterpoint. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. {GB}

GB - Google Books preview; GBd - Google Books description

Updated: March 26, 2018

Reginald Bain | University of South Carolina | School of Music