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I wanted to compose a song starting out by using only 4 voices in the traditional SATB way and get a mockup for the song I am producing. I am the singer and producer and just want to get a mockup of the voice leading involved so this score is just for compositional purposes. I have never done this before so I am just trying to apply what I learned in harmony class and trying out different ways of scoring for my own purposes and my own vocal range. All suggesitions are welcome.

The score here has a piano part which is just an accompaniment and not part of the voice leading. The question I have relates the the grand staff. I am a baritone but in the chorus of the song I sing a bit higher and here I decided to use the "alto" part in the arrangement (in red). I use the "tenor" as my vocal part in the rest of the score (not shown). Ranges are not an issue for the other "voices" because they will be instrumental in the arrangment.

So the issue I have is in measure 18 moving from the F3 to the C4 in the next bar. In an ideal voice leading scenario, the alto would stay on Bb but my vocal melody dips all the way to F making a unison with the tenor and both those parts move up in similar motion. my question is:

Is this a problem? If so how to fix it

1 Answer 1


If you were trying to write a chorale in Bach’s style, for example, no, you wouldn’t want the melody jumping between parts like a train switching tracks, certainly not in the middle of a phrase. In that style of music, you’d want each part to be able to stand alone; the voices are supposed to maintain their independence.

In that style, two parts meeting for a brief unison is fine, so long as they go in different directions following that.

But you’re not writing in that style, are you? If you were, I’d say your most glaring issues are the parallel octaves between the alto and bass and the lack of movement in the bass and tenor parts.

If you’re the only vocalist and this is for a recording in a popular style of music, it would be difficult to pick out separate lines of music anyway, especially since the rest of the voices are only there to form chords, not independent lines of music. There is no need to conform to the paradigms of a Bach chorale just for the sake of doing so. If it’s popular music, it’s safe to follow the rule: if it sounds good, it is good.

  • Thank you. Where are parallel 5ths? The bassline moves first to D before going to C so this makes contrary motion from a 3rd to the 5ths by using a chordal skip. My harmony book says chordal skips are used like this all the time for this very purpose.
    – user35708
    Commented Feb 26, 2023 at 6:40
  • The tenor and bass lines both remaining on C/G is a parallel fifth. It does this on B♭/F as well, and again on C/G. The point is to have movement of these lines, and for that movement to be independent of the other. You're clearly not writing in that style, though. The chords going from C to B♭ and back, presumably with an eventual resolution to F, with a harmonic rhythm of whole measures, indicate pretty clearly that this is popular music.
    – trw
    Commented Feb 27, 2023 at 15:51
  • remaining on a 5th is not parallel 5ths
    – user35708
    Commented Feb 28, 2023 at 12:20
  • Well, OK. I updated the answer. It's still not something any composition teacher is going to allow if you're doing "traditional SATB". There would need to be movement.
    – trw
    Commented Feb 28, 2023 at 15:43

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