Music: Practice & Theory Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for musicians, students, and enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

What tones would you use if told to strike the common chord of C in four-part, close harmony, using the root for the highest tone?

share|improve this question

enter image description here

A C chord is composed of the tones C, E, and G. The root is C. In a four-part chord, the bass is typically also the root. So, we have a C in the bass and a C in the soprano. A closed chord indicates that the alto should be the closest harmonizing note (beneath the soprano) and the tenor should be the next closest harmonizing note coming down.

Because this is a four part harmony, the bass doesn't have to be the next lows harmonizing note. The interval between the tenor and the bass can be as large as we wish. In this case it is a tenth.

share|improve this answer
It's very strange to call C the fundamental, I think that term should be saved for the basis of an overtone series. Root is the better term for the C in a C-major chord. – Pat Muchmore Jan 22 '14 at 3:47
I would've thought the phrase "close harmony" implied this meaning, i.e. that the notes are within an octave of one another, rather than a "closed position chord" (which I think is what you're referring to). But I'll admit I'm not entirely sure. – shambulator Jan 22 '14 at 17:00
Yes, that is what a the close position is, but in a four part harmony, the bass is exempt from the closest harmonizing note rule. If there are three voices in closed position, they will always be within one octave. – American Luke Jan 22 '14 at 17:09
Ah, I see. Thanks for clearing it up! – shambulator Jan 22 '14 at 23:25

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.