When writing songs with more than 4 voices, or with chords which contain more than 4 notes, how would harmonic leading rules apply? Cause quite often it won't be possible to avoid parallel motion in this kind of compositions... Which resource could I confer related to this type of writing?

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    When I told my piano teacher with 13 years that I'd like to become a composer he asked me to arrange a choral for the next practice. So I wrote a 4 voice setting of the choral LOBE DEN HERREN and brought it to the piano lesson. (I had never heard something about voice leading). The teacher said: oh, there are parallels of fifths here and there! With this short critic he killed the carreer of one of the most upgrowing composers of the 20th centenary. ;) Almost 60 years later I am still convinced that those parallels were sounding fine and like my arrangement of 1963. Sep 14, 2019 at 19:10

2 Answers 2


The same principle applies - don't write anything that sticks out like a sore thumb! What WILL stick out depends on the style you're writing in.

To see how to handle more than 4 voices according to the Baroque rule-book you could study Palestrina's works for multiple voices.


Also see how to handle 4-part (mostly) texture while revelling in consecutive 5ths. You still won't find many doubled leading note-tonic lines though. We're still tonal, and those WOULD stick out.

(The whole thing's available on IMSLP. If you don't know it, have a look. It's lovely!

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I don't know why you are so fixed on rules like avoiding parallel fifths and concerned with voice leading. If it sounds good you can write what you want (except it is for an examination of your knowledge of counterpoint and these rules).

Especially when you write for 5 voices you shouldn't be afraid of parallels. The rule of indepence of voices and their individuality by counter-movement is always a good plan. It depends in what style you want to write. That's why you should avoid longer passages of parallels of 3rds and 6ths if you don't want to make it sound too folky. And don't forget to set rests in your composition, it is good to have only 2 or 3 voices sometimes or unisono passages!

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