I usually can only come up with two separate harmonies for a song, the ones I came up with after that are usually an octave higher or lower than those two harmonies.

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    Are you limiting yourself to triads, like major and minor chords, in your harmony? If so, then yes - there are only three notes in each octave for those chords, so your third added harmony note must be a repetition of an existing note in another octave. If you allow more complicated chords (e.g. 7ths and 9ths) then you can have more notes before you 'repeat yourself', though of course it jazzes up the sound of your harmony. (I hope I understood correctly!) – topo Reinstate Monica Apr 10 '16 at 15:55
  • @topomorto I don't think the question is about chords at all. I think it's about harmonizing a melody with a parallel melody. – Rockin Cowboy Apr 10 '16 at 22:14
  • @RockinCowboy I meant chords in the sense of what the resultant harmony of those parallel lines is. – topo Reinstate Monica Apr 10 '16 at 22:48
  • @topomorto ahhhh - I got ya. – Rockin Cowboy Apr 10 '16 at 23:51

4 voices are common. The classic "Glenn Miller" sound had the melody doubled on tenor sax and clarinet an octave apart, with the three other saxes harmonising within that octave. So that's 4 independent parts. Also look at the "locked hands" piano style associated with George Shearing.The Baroque composers regularly wrote 4-part counterpoint (that's even cleverer than just adding parallel harmony lines) and sometimes demonstrated they could manage more! Even a simple hymn tune is normally harmonised in 4 parts - and the aim is to give each voice a coherent melodic line to sing.

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  • It's difficult to understand exactly what is being asked here. But you answered one of the possibilities. Chords were not mentioned in the question. Two voices (notes) can certainly harmonize with one another and it seems that may very well be what the question is about. +1 – Rockin Cowboy Apr 10 '16 at 22:13
  • If the 'harmonies' are doubled, an octave apart, that's not what the question is about. Hymn tunes often have a doubled harmony, an octave apart. – Tim Apr 11 '16 at 8:21
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    "Hymn tune" can cover a multitude of styles and textures of course. But I think you knew I was talking about Bach chorale-style SATB writing, where consecutive 5ths, let alone octaves, are banned! – Laurence Payne Apr 11 '16 at 18:59

Taking that a nominal chord will have 3 notes - root, 3rd and 5th, before getting to the octave of the root, it's 3. Even with first or second inversion. However, 2nds (or 9ths), 6ths and some sort of 7ths will also fit with the original triad. Not all at the same time, but 1,2,3,5 works. As does 1,3,5,6, or 1,3,5,7. Going over the octave, but not duplicating notes, there's a 9th chord harmony, with 1,3,5,7 and 9. Of course, the 3s can be major or minor, the 5ths P, # or b, the 7ths major or minor, and the 9ths # or b. Then there's 11ths and 13ths. So, quite a few, and I expect I've missed some. Take a look at some guitar chords, with close voicing especially, for ideas.

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