If you have an SATB piece of music that begins with, say, "DFAD," and ends with "GBDG" (picardy third in this case), and if this piece is repeated (e.g., stanzas in a hymn), would the tenor be committing the "error" of singing an augmented fourth? (This question, of course, applies to any of the other "rules" of part-writing.) It seems like it would be indisputable if it occurred in the middle of the piece, but are normal part-writing rules in effect when repeating the singing as much as continuing the singing?

beginning chord: DFAG, ending chord: GBDG

  • I think the bigger error is the voice overlapping involving the tenor and alto.
    – Dekkadeci
    Jan 25, 2018 at 16:29
  • I scanned a page long ago from an appendix to what I believe was a music theory textbook, and the error I described was among a short list of errors (e.g., parallel octaves) under the heading, "There are no exceptions to these practices," whereas yours was under a much longer list under the heading, "These practices should be carefully observed unless a particular situation permits no other alternative." I really have no quarrel with both being erroneous, nor any current interest in which is more erroneous --- merely whether it applies on repetition, which you seem to suggest it does?
    – Neal
    Jan 25, 2018 at 16:35

1 Answer 1


I'm going to take a back route to this answer.

In Schenkerian theory there is a concept called interruption. One common form of interruption has scale-degree 2 in the melody above a root-position V chord; this scale-degree 2 moves to scale-degree 5 above a root-position I chord. This results in a motion of:

2 5

Or, in C major:


In other words, parallel perfect fifths.

You're welcome to read more about interruption if you like, but what's important for this answer is that there are times, typically at ends of phrases, where these parallel fifths occur. I won't go into Schenker's reasons here, but the point is that these part-writing rules do not apply at this stanza break, nor do they apply at various phrase endings, points of repetition, etc.

  • Am I correct in saying that, in a nutshell, Schenkerian analysis concerns itself more with the larger harmonic "picture" of a composition than with particular voice-leading details from one "beat" to another?
    – Neal
    Jan 29, 2018 at 20:26
  • Yes, I think that's a fair statement. But Schenkerian analysis considers the small-scale stuff, too.
    – Richard
    Jan 29, 2018 at 20:28
  • I appreciate your reply, which I didn’t want to go unnoticed, but I don’t know if it applies in the same way that I’m asking; e.g., writing chorales for altos to sing intervals of twelfths and tenors to sing C2 results in (an 18th-C.) undesirable sound… but though the writing stops at the end of verse 1, the sound continues to verse 2. IOW, in a music theory textbook appendix titled, “Summary of Part-Writing Procedures Based on Practices Followed by 18th-Century Composers of Chorale Harmonizations,” I see no mention of whether repetition was considered, especially if it’d break procedure.
    – Neal
    Feb 8, 2018 at 17:45

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