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What are some guidelines for doubling the same tone in the upper voices (tenor, alto, soprano) on the same pitch, as well as in different octaves? I am specifically talking about doubling in upper voices, NOT doubling the bass. Are some of the combinations more preferable than the others (e.g. doubling the thirds as opposed to doubling fifths)?

Does it matter whether bass is in the root position or an inversion (obviously it does)?

It does probably matter, whether it is a triad or a dominant seventh chord, does it?

It seems there are many receipts for different cases (as read in Tchaikovsky's Guide to Harmony). Would have been nice to have a centralized set of rules and preferences.

Edit: In an original formulation, there was an example, which I decided to remove, for the answers were mostly directed to it and not the main part.

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guidelines for doubling the same tone in the upper voices (tenor, alto, soprano) on the same pitch, as well as in different octaves

Main rule: Don't double the lead tone and avoid open fifth parallels!

In root position you can double the root tone, then the 5th and the 3rd.

When the 5th is in the Bass you can also double each tone of the chord (1,3,5.)

When the 3rd is in the Bass - you can study the following picture of De la Motte's Harmonielehre: He says that the rules are not referring to the practice. A little statistic shows that each chord note can or has been doubled!

except in the 1st inversion of the dominant V6: In this case the Bass note is the lead tone and shouldn't be doubled!

(s. below)

I've already posted this copy in another question:

enter image description here

  • Thanks a lot for the detailed answer. Just couple of clarifications needed from my side. 1) You say "In root position you can double the root tone, then the 5th and the 3rd." Is it theoretically that you have 3 root tones in four voices and for example one third? For example C - C - E - C. 2). 2) All these rules are from Harmonielehre of De la Motte, am I right? – NickQuant Sep 22 at 15:51
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In this case, it would not be good: it creates consecutive fifths between tenor (b' c'') and bass (e f).

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The rules for 4-part voicing may be modified a little when dropping into 3-part voicing! A doubled major 3rd is much less prominent when it's a unison. But note that the examples you give are all interrupted cadences in a minor key. The note being doubled, though the 3rd of the chord, is also the tonic. You may consider this a mitigating factor.

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