From Tchaikovsky's harmony textbook, "Guide to the Practical Study of Harmony", page 121:

Concerning example 323 (image below) in the 9th bar bass voice (red circle):

Why is this jump from "a" to "f" allowed for strict part writing in four-division time? It's clearly not a passing tone, so by elimination it must be a changing tone. But how can this be? Changing tones he uses correctly in the blue circles in the image based off of the rules he provided. Is this just a changing note entering by a skip which is listed in the examples of page 113? It doesn't seem to match what Tchaikovsky provided in his example.

The rules for four-division time are included below the score segment image for reference (section 122).

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1 Answer 1


This circled F is neither a passing nor a changing tone; instead, it's just a member of the chord!

Starting with the soprano, the voices have C, F, and A—an F-major chord. So the bass is allowed to leap from A down to F because that F is a chord tone. As long as the leap isn't too large, there aren't really any stipulations for how to move to this F since it's a member of the chord and doesn't need to be treated with special care (as a dissonant non-chord tone would be).

  • I see that, but that seems to contradict what he says in section 122 “ The unaccented beats are devoted to the resolutions of suspensions, and to passing and changing notes.” (It’s the first paragraph under the score image).
    – Oliver G
    Commented Feb 23, 2021 at 18:21
  • 2
    @OliverG My reading is that it's understood that any beat can also be a chord tone. And since every beat can be a chord tone, he only really discusses instances where something is not a chord tone. In Example 322, for instance, note that beat 4 is always a member of the chord.
    – Richard
    Commented Feb 23, 2021 at 18:44

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