Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Music Melodic material that is added above or below an existing melody.
  • n. Music The technique of combining two or more melodic lines in such a way that they establish a harmonic relationship while retaining their linear individuality.
  • n. Music A composition or piece that incorporates or consists of contrapuntal writing.
  • n. A contrasting but parallel element, item, or theme.
  • n. Use of contrasting elements in a work of art.
  • transitive v. Music To write or arrange (music) in counterpoint.
  • transitive v. To set in contrast: "The complex, clotted computer talk sadly counterpoints the simplistic nature of the characters” ( Rhoda Koenig).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. a melody added to an existing one, especially one added to provide harmony whilst each retains its simultaneous identity; a composition consisting of such contrapuntal melodies
  • n. any similar contrasting element in a work of art
  • v. to compose or arrange such music

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An opposite point.
  • n. The setting of note against note in harmony; the adding of one or more parts to a given canto fermo or melody.
  • n. The art of polyphony, or composite melody, i. e., melody not single, but moving attended by one or more related melodies.
  • n. Music in parts; part writing; harmony; polyphonic music. See polyphony.
  • n. A coverlet; a cover for a bed, often stitched or broken into squares; a counterpane. See 1st counterpane.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A coverlet; a counterpane.
  • n. An opposite point.
  • n. An opposite position or standpoint.
  • n. In music: The art of musical composition in general.
  • n. The art of polyphonic or concerted composition, in distinction from homophonic or melodic composition.
  • n. Specifically, the art of adding to a given melody, subject, theme, or canto fermo, one or more melodies whose relations to the given melody are fixed by rules.
  • n. A voice-part of independent character polyphonically combined with one or more other parts.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. write in counterpoint
  • n. a musical form involving the simultaneous sound of two or more melodies
  • v. to show differences when compared; be different

Etymologies

From counter- +‎ point, Middle French contrepoint. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The term counterpoint originated in the fourteenth century, though the art designated by it had been practiced for several centuries previous.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 4: Clandestinity-Diocesan Chancery

  • So, in counterpoint to what Steph said, fiction does often beget the act of poetry for me – it happened all through 2003, when I was producing stories that were simply not very good and failing to finish stories in general and despairing of my ability to plot.

    Why I write poetry | The Long Write

  • His hands, one grasping a withered stick and the other a bag filled with old bones, moved in counterpoint to his words.

    Caribou House « A Fly in Amber

  • I think an interesting counterpoint is the bilingual program in the community of Madrid.

    S is for “Strategies” « An A-Z of ELT

  • By the second act you get a good feeling for the characters 'personalities, and seeing them around the same table, arguing in counterpoint, works well.

    Theatre Review: "Arcadia" by Tom Stoppard

  • She has suggested also Mexican dishes wth rice in counterpoint to the paella which is Spanish which could be interesting.

    Cooking classes

  • The counterpoint is major airliners can fly and even land themselves on autopilot these days, largely because of advances in fly-by-wire and sensor technology.

    10 sci-fi technologies that just might happen « 10 Dots

  • But Coppola also gets the benefit of the general, vague familiarity with the piece, giving the scene an almost banal overtone that works in counterpoint with the intense violence.

    In the corners of my mind

  • Two bits of received wisdom about Elliott Carter's music are that individual instruments are given individual characters, and that there isn't much thematic imitation in the traditional sense — the program book for this year's Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music mentions, in regard to the Sonata for Harpsichord, Flute, Cello, and Oboe, that imitative counterpoint is "not usually found" in Carter.

    Archive 2008-07-01

  • An interesting counterpoint is the recent news item, about a policeman repeatedly striking a drunken woman “as hard as I was physically able” and “using brute force”.

    I haven’t had a dream in a long time « POLICE INSPECTOR BLOG

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