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Here you can see in the first bar the reduction of the first bar has the ^1 on the second beat while in bar 2 the two tones are stemmed together. Why?

  • Is that note in the third measure missing a stem altogether, or is that just an artefact of the image? Commented Jul 28, 2022 at 9:44
  • yes, notes that are less important are not stemmed such as passing notes. In this case I guess that the G is a continuation from bar to in the reduction so it is not stemmed
    – user35708
    Commented Jul 28, 2022 at 9:45
  • 1
    The translation from the melody to the reduction is so inconsistent that it's not possible to infer the meaning of stemming the notes together. Why is measure five represented that way but not measures one and three? Is it because m. 5 has a different interval from mm. 1 and 3 or because it has the same interval as m. 4? The example looks like it's from a textbook that teaches the reader how to do this sort of analysis. If that's true, I would expect the textbook to explain the notational system it's teaching the reader to use. Doesn't it?
    – phoog
    Commented Jul 28, 2022 at 9:59
  • (Also, in my experience, the next-to-last note is G, not E.)
    – phoog
    Commented Jul 28, 2022 at 10:03
  • Phoog the textbook does explain but this such a beginners chapter that they havent explained too much. This is supposed to be an example using the simplest of melodies so thought it would be obvious to someone with more experience
    – user35708
    Commented Jul 28, 2022 at 10:54

1 Answer 1


The reduction is illustrating that the melody notes serve multiple conceptual functions.

The initial C, according to this interpretation, is heard as a separate, bass voice that carries through the first three measures. The upper voice begins on F, then moves to E and G, then just G. The reason the E and G are written simultaneously is to show that that voice functions chordally even though the actually pitches are song one after the other.

Measures 4 and 5 are being interpreted as a single "voice" that forms a chord.

In measure 6, the interpretation is that there is now a return to two voices, with the D being dropped an octave in the reduction to show its function as the harmonic foundation (i.e., bass voice). Measure 7 is similar, but without the need for an octave displacement.

In measure 8, the parenthetical note is there, because while it's not a heard pitch, it is "conceptually heard" as forming a major chord for the ending. This can be demonstrated by playing the melody and actually playing the A at the end along with the F. It will sound "right"; whereas playing some other note that forms a different chord with the F (Ab or D, say) will clearly sound wrong.

  • I have zero experience in any music institution and I've never seen such a "reduction" thingy, but this was my idea of what someone may have meant with the clearly non-standard notation. I find it a bit odd that the reduction doesn't seem to say anything about the overall rhythmic form A - A - A' - B. Maybe it's assumed to be clear without saying? Commented Jul 28, 2022 at 15:34
  • @piiperiReinstateMonica The notation is something you get used to after you've seen it a few times And you're right, this reduction doesn't concern itself with rhythm or form, just the harmonic/melodic functions of the pitches.
    – Aaron
    Commented Jul 28, 2022 at 15:57
  • Aaron: C as a bass voice? Wouldnt the bass note be the root of the chord? So F in this case. Also, why is E and G interpreted as one voice? The 1st bar also has chord tones so I dont see on what it is based
    – user35708
    Commented Jul 29, 2022 at 7:12
  • Is it possible that the notes stemmed together are the ones that form 3rds while the ones that are 4ths are not stemmed together.
    – user35708
    Commented Jul 29, 2022 at 7:19
  • @armani A reduction of this type is meant to show melodic and harmonic function. The fact that the notes stemmed together are thirds is coincidental. The reduction is just saying that the two notes function within the same melodic voice.
    – Aaron
    Commented Aug 1, 2022 at 2:36

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