I am working on trying to harmonize a tenor and bassline part in 4 part writing and I really like the way they sound together so far but the initial chord I had in mind for this bar was Fm/Ab which would work nicely for the 1st notes but then the bassline changes to compliment the vocal part and I am unsure if I should change the harmony half way through the bar or could the same harmony be used throughout the bar? Does the answer perhaps depend on what the other two voices are doing and where they will be placed? If so, could someone give me an idea or two about how to take the next step here? Lets say I use the next chord over the first of the two quick 16th notes, then should the harmony change there for example or could it be left with the same two top notes? Again, just looking for suggestions and ideas on how to take the next step.


bar 33 of song

  • Can you clarify? The only non chord tone appears to be the G3 in the tenor. Chords being Fm/A and Gm. The bass seems all chord tones. Jun 9, 2021 at 16:00
  • yes but supposing my harmony would stay Fm/Ab for the whole bar then G is a non-chord tone. I initially had this melody over Fm/Ab but then I changed the bassline to suit the melody in the tenor part. Let me know if I should change something in the question please. THank you!
    – user35708
    Jun 9, 2021 at 16:08
  • Analyzing the chords that way wouldn't make sense. Just writing a chord label doesn't make it so. Jun 9, 2021 at 18:08
  • ok so if you had these two voices and you liked them could you tell me what your next steps would be... like your thought process. would you then decide where to put the other two voices first rhythmically?
    – user35708
    Jun 9, 2021 at 20:52
  • If I was writing 4 part harmony, I would start with a chord in 4 parts and then move by good voice leading principles. If you are working with one given part, like a chorale tune, then I would harmonize the cadence points first, sketch in important parts of the phrase, especially the soprano, then when the framework seems good, fill in the details. Jun 10, 2021 at 18:19

1 Answer 1


You may think that by not including more info you are making it easier to answer but so much of music is context so what’s going on above, before and after is all relevant. If your chord is Fm/Ab on beats 1 and 2 the notes in the next two beats have nothing to do with that chord so a change in harmony is probably warranted based on what’s there, perhaps a C7/G? Ultimately use your ear and do what sounds right to you, there’s no wrong choice, unless it’s for a 4 part writing assignment ;-)

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