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The exercise was to make the harmony for the bass notes.

I'm studying with a book by myself so I'm not sure if I am doing this right.

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    So if I’m understanding this right, the book gave you the bass line and you had to fill the rest in? Did it give figured bass too? The parallel 5ths definitely a broken rule. Jump of a 6th in bass isn’t awesome, but not technically wrong; it would be a little boring but you could just have bass be an “E” right there. You also have a couple moments where SA are octaves. This will create a hollow sound, so be aware of that. Last, your soprano line at end is odd. Again, not wrong but a leap of a 4th after smooth leading would be jarring. Aug 26, 2018 at 10:56
  • @jjmusicnotes what do you mean by "figured bass" ? do you mean the inversion numbers ? if that's what your asking, yes. could you be more specific what part your talking about in "jump of a 6th in bass isn't awesome....." ? Aug 26, 2018 at 14:14

2 Answers 2


This is actually rather nice, and quite impressive for someone learning on their own; nicely done!

Here are the comments I would give if you were my student:

  • The most egregious error is in m. 4, with the parallel perfect fifths D/A to E/B between the bass/soprano on beats 2 and 3. This is a definite error in this style that needs to be fixed.
  • There's a related error here of the V moving to IV6, which is a retrogression (as opposed to a progression). Your IV–V–IV6 is almost a predominant expansion, but if you really want to expand the IV chord, a better choice on beat 3 would be I64 (which would get you out of the parallel perfect fifths). Maybe try that! (Note: Some might not consider this an error.)
  • Your chords are all I, IV, and V. This is not an error, and perhaps this was intentional, but you may try throwing another chord or two in there. Instead of IV, maybe try ii or ii6. Instead of V64, maybe try viio6, which is actually much more common with the 1–2–3 or 3–2–1 bass.
  • A very small error is found moving into beat 4 of m. 6. Here, the soprano moves by leap into a B, and the bass moves by step into another B. The rule here is that, if the soprano and bass move by similar motion into a perfect consonance, the soprano must move by step. But here, the soprano and bass both descending into a perfect octave, and the soprano leaps. These are often called "hidden" octaves, but people have different names for them. It's a relatively obscure rule, but it's one I thought I would share; you could easily place a D in the soprano and make this chord a V43 if you like, or make it a viio6 with a few other changes.

Lastly, there are some questions in the comments about a leaping sixth. On beat 4 of m. 4, your bass F♯ leaps down a sixth to A and then immediately back up a sixth to the F♯. Typically, a leap larger than a third will resolve by step in the opposite direction. In other words, your leap down a sixth (which itself is a little large) would almost certainly want to resolve with stepwise ascending motion through B and C♯. But, if you were given these bass pitches, then that's not your error! (But in my opinion, it would be better to just move that A up an octave.) I strongly recommend not just putting an E there, because you'd be left with an illegal six-four chord.

  • Thanks for your answer ! It really helped me a lot ! But I don't quite get what you're saying here "I strongly recommend not just putting an E there, because you'd be left with an illegal six-four chord." What is a "illegal six-four" ? Aug 27, 2018 at 2:57
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    @HyunYooPark In short, six-four chords have to be treated a particular way. The bass of a six-four chord can either be a passing tone between the chords on either side of it, a pedal tone, the same pitch as the next chord, or an arpeggiation of the given chord. In this case, the bass would be a neighbor, which would not be an acceptable option. Try searching around for "six-four chords" to learn more!
    – Richard
    Aug 27, 2018 at 3:02

Rising Parallel fifths in bass and soprano parts, bar 4 beats 2 and 3? That's a comment rather than a Rule Violation. Some people are more relaxed about parallel fifths than others.

  • Thanks ! I didn't see that ! but if it is just a step movement I heard it's ok ?am I wrong ? Aug 26, 2018 at 10:07
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    In this style writing, you generally want to avoid parallel fifths, especially between the bass and soprano because the outer voices draw attention to it. Parallel fifths hidden in the inner voices are not as obvious.
    – Heather S.
    Aug 26, 2018 at 10:43
  • There's no exception for 5ths moving by step. Bar 4 would be seen as a serious error in the context of this sort of harmony exercise.
    – Laurence
    Aug 26, 2018 at 12:03

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