In classical / romantic harmony, are parallel octaves allowable in left hand chords? When and why? For example, in Chopin's Nocturne Op. 9 No. 2, right at the beginning, there are parallel G-A-G. This is not a case of voice doubling, since the octaves disappear in the second measure.

  • 1
    A copy of the bars would be helpful. As you say G and A, I’m looking up the sheet but I can find only octava in bar 32. Commented Jan 24, 2019 at 6:54
  • I don't recall G-A-G octaves in the Nocturne neither!
    – coconochao
    Commented Jan 25, 2019 at 13:32

1 Answer 1


Yes, here these octava parallels are allowed. (You may mean the rules of strict voice leading in a 4 part-harmony.)

In a piano piece like this in romantic or classic music you don’t mind the rule of forbidden parallels, doubling of voicing can take every where (left and right hand), except this would actually be a 4 part setting.

The piano can play the role of an orchestra as well as a string quartet.

  • 7
    One way of looking at it is that parallel octaves in this setting are not two separate voices, but just one strengthened voice. Commented Jan 24, 2019 at 12:39
  • 7
    Exactly. Even in classical counterpoint, unison passages were always permissible. The prohibition against parallel octaves concerns instances between two voices that are supposed to be independent. Commented Jan 24, 2019 at 12:41

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