The outer voices would move into a P8 by leap which is supposed to be hidden octaves and not good. Is this indeed a bad progression and would another harmony be better here? I normally would just stay on I here but if I have a weak beat ^3 followed by a strong beat ^5 I wont be able to use the same chord.

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    The V chord does not contain the ^3 scale degree; you need V13 instead - do you mean that both ^3 and ^5 are for the I chord instead?
    – Dekkadeci
    Jul 11, 2022 at 17:28
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    @Dekkadeci is exactly right. The question doesn't make sense as asked. Maybe add a picture of what you're trying to do.
    – Aaron
    Jul 11, 2022 at 17:35
  • oops, had the chords the wrong way around, sorry guys
    – user35708
    Jul 11, 2022 at 19:16
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    yeah yeah, I have heard this one before and I did what sounded good for 10 years before picking up a harmony book, what sounded good then doesnt sound so good now. In 4 part harmony hidden octaves are discouraged... having said that, can there be any doubt about the context of my question?
    – user35708
    Jul 11, 2022 at 19:57
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    ^3 backed by I into ^5 backed by V is the beginning of "O Canada", Canada's national anthem. I therefore doubt that this is a "bad progression", but maybe the analysts will indeed spit at Calixa Lavallée's questionable choice of composition methods and find the piece hard to assign to SATB voices.
    – Dekkadeci
    Jul 11, 2022 at 21:20

1 Answer 1


If you think of the outer voices especially in terms of two part writing, then the bare octave also becomes a bit of a concern. It sounds sort of "hollow."

The way out of that is a preference for thirds/sixths: ^3 ^5 harmonized with I V6. I think this would be the "standard" two part harmony for ^3 ^5 and tonic/dominant harmony.

Another way to think of the implied harmony of ^3 ^5 is simply an arpeggiation of I, and so no chord change.

I supposed you could mitigate the direct octaves concern by moving the base in contrary motion.

  • Thanks Michael. This is a perfect answer. Great!
    – user35708
    Jul 11, 2022 at 21:41
  • Base or bass? Not sure if that’s a typo… Jul 11, 2022 at 21:42
  • I do think of the outer voices in two part writing as is taught in my textbook and I totally get why they first teach species counterpoint before going into 4 part writing. The rules might be old and annoying at times but they do ensure good sounding harmonic progressions.
    – user35708
    Jul 12, 2022 at 7:38

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