Gradus ad Parnassum

Gradus ad Parnassum (Steps to Parnassus) is the title of Johann Fux's 1725 treatise setting out a method for the study of the musical art of counterpoint. Fux explained in his preface that he wanted to create a method "similar to that by which children learn first letters, then syllables, then combinations of syllables, and finally how to read and write," and he succeeded in creating a pedagogical work that, while based on the 16th-century Palestrina style that was antique even at the time, has been useful to composers ever since. Beginning with Haydn, most of the great composers studied counterpoint using Fux's series of "Species" beginning with note-against-note (First Species), then two to one (Second Species), four to one (Third Species), two to one with tied syncopation (Fourth Species) and finally a Fifth Species that combines the first four.

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