I am writing a chorale in C flat major and I currently have a 3 chord going to a I6 chord. Stacked, the chords are EGEB to EGEC. Is this considered parallel octaves? HELP.

  • 4
    In case you don't know why, the reason parallel fifths and octaves aren't allowed is that they cause voices to drop out. If you put three or four parts together, and get some nice contrast motion going in the voices, and then drop a parallel octave in there somewhere, and listen to it, you'll notice that it sounds like there's a missing note where your parallel octave is. Fourths are sort of frowned on, and thirds and sixths are just fine if not overused to the point of losing the contrast in the voices.
    – BobRodes
    Commented Feb 11, 2015 at 4:26
  • also, In first inversion (I-6) you should try to double the soprano. Although, if you did, it would just be a I chord in root position. Commented Jun 4, 2015 at 21:10

2 Answers 2


Just to add to Patrx2 answer there are a total of four types of motion in counterpoint. They are:

  • oblique - one note moves while the other doesn't
  • contrary - the notes move in the opposite direction
  • similar - the notes move in the same direction, but different intervals (i.e. one moves a 2nd and the other moves a 3rd)
  • parallel - the notes move in the same direction by the same interval

In your example the two notes in question don't move so there is no motion so nothing above applies. It may seem like a lot, but you can ask yourself a few questions to figure out what motion is being used between any two notes.

Does only one note move?

  • If yes then the motion is oblique.
  • If no then continue to next question.

Do they both move the same direction?

  • If no then the motion is contrary.
  • If yes then continue to next question.

Do they both move the same interval?

  • If no then the motion is similar.
  • If yes then the motion is parallel.
  • +1 for useful amplification. My answer was in response to the immediate question. This starts answering the questions that should follow from the original question and answer.
    – user16935
    Commented Feb 12, 2015 at 22:00

No. If the notes don't move, they aren't parallel octaves. Repeated notes act very much like tied notes. If you had moved both Es down to their respective neighbouring Ds, leaving the tenor and soprano static, that would be an example of parallel octaves.

  • To be clear, the actual motion happening here is called "oblique motion". Commented Feb 11, 2015 at 2:55
  • Between the soprano and the rest of the voices, yes.
    – user16935
    Commented Feb 11, 2015 at 3:01

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