We're studying Traditional Harmony, I am given with the following exercise: The exercise - two note we had to fill

And Iv'e decided to fill it this way, trying to make the sound more interesting. My solution to the exercise

However I do find that between the bass and tenor in the first chord there's a P5 moving towards P8.

I was wondering if such such movement is allowed?

UPDATE I forgot to mention we're not allowed to use any inversion, only root position chords so the bass has to be the root.

  • You could still make it better trough the use of non-chordal notes.
    – Neil Meyer
    Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 13:10
  • I forgot to mention we have to use root position chords so the bass has to be the root.
    – Rami
    Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 13:41

2 Answers 2


That's OK. Have you found a 'rule' somewhere that says it isn't?

Might an F# in the alto fill the harmony out better?

  • I haven't, but I thought maybe motion of P5 to P8 is not allowed like direct P5. And I thought about moving the alto to F# but then I won't get any contrary motion. What do you think?
    – Rami
    Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 13:43
  • Contrary motion is good. Full harmony is good. You could have both by going UP to B in the bass.
    – Laurence
    Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 13:55
  • 1
    There are more than enough "rules" already - don't go looking for more! Also, the best way to answer questions like this is look at some real music by well known composers. The first page of imslp.org/wiki/Special:ImagefromIndex/318293 has plenty of examples of Bach writing exactly what you are "wondering" about - and most likely, breaking several of your textbook's "rules" as well.
    – user19146
    Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 17:50
  • Laurence is correct. In general, if one voice does not move (the tenor in this example), then it doesn't matter what intervals follow one another. And yes, the second chord is a bit hollow with no fifth- an F# in the alto would improve it. Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 19:26
  • Sorry, alephzero, but I disagree with your comment. The study of Traditional Harmony is not defined by the real music practices of real composers. It's a made-up genre of music study, invented by pedagogues in the 19th century, and a plague to the rest of us ever since. When I teach theory classes, I always preface my first lecture with the words "What you are about to learn isn't real. It was made up by evil people to torment you, We're going to study it because some music schools require you pass a test on it to get into the school. Good luck."
    – L3B
    Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 17:42

To answer your original question: It depends.

If you use similar motion in going from the fifth to the octave, that's a non-no.

Doing what you did in the example, maintaining one note of the fifth in the following octave: that's OK, but not ideal.

Ideal is going by contrary motion, but you can't do that in the quoted example.

So, it depends, as I said.

I should also add that if the chord progression isn't specified, you could go to a different chord on the second note, that would make it easier to use contrary motion and would also avoid tripling the root, as you've done, and which is often frowned upon.

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