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As I am currently deeply involved in studying four-part harmony, I am interested to know some examples of composers and pieces, which heavily use the rules of four-part harmony and not wildly (subjective term) violate the them.

P.S. I am interested specifically in Western Classical Music, starting with Classical era and ending with Romantic era, excluding Baroque and Modern.

P.P.S. I heard in the interview of Vladimir Ashkenazy, that Rachmaninov was always very strong in harmony, during his studying years in Moscow Conservatory. Does it imply that he was using much of it in his later composition?

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    "I am interested specifically in Western Classical Music, starting with Classical era and ending with Romantic era": In that case he answer to your question is "pretty much everybody and every piece they wrote." In fact, the line between the romantic and modern periods is easier to draw using compositional style as the main criterion than it is by date. One of the changes in the modern period was relaxed attention to traditional rules of harmony and counterpoint such as the prohibition on parallel fifths. – phoog Oct 6 at 19:39
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    if you want a large selection of 4 part vocal harmonies, get a hymnal. Almost every hymn in traditional hymnals is fully in 4 part harmony. They should largely fit into post-baroque too. – Legorhin Oct 7 at 14:55
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I agree with @Legorhin a hymnal is a good source for study.

I recently learned that the John Calvin wanted the Geneva Psalter tunes to be written primarily in half notes. Some other hymnals - like the Havergal's Psalmody - seem to follow that rhythmic style. I think that style of harmonization is particularly useful for studying relative motion which is a major part of the 'rules' because all voice movements happen simultaneously.

Two examples that may interest you:

Choral Harmony. A collection of tunes ... for four voices

Havergal's Psalmody and Century of Chants

Another way to go it get the definitive (IMO) source:

Bach, 371 Harmonized Chorales

The part writing is much more complex in Bach that the other two examples I suggested.

I think one collection from the Calvin style plus Bach's 371 make a nice complementary set both in terms of study level (Calvin for easy, Bach for advanced) and the historic evolution of four part harmony.

  • "the early Protestant church wanted hymn tunes to be written primarily in half notes": the article you link to does not support the statement that the early protestant church particularly wanted it; it merely describes the state of melodic composition in that time. The nature of the melodies was also affected by the fact that many of the early hymn tunes were based on Latin chant. It's also perhaps inaccurate unless you reduce the original note values by half; see for example en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Mighty_Fortress_Is_Our_God. – phoog Oct 8 at 1:19
  • @phoog, it's right in the linked paragraph: "the note values are restricted to half notes and quarter notes." Are you quibbling over 'Protestant church' versus Calvin and the Geneva Psalter? I see the same thing in other hymnals so I made a general statement. Also, it was a reaction against chant to produce music that was easier for the congregation to sing. And that is my main point to the OP. That style of harmonization is easier to read an analyze. – Michael Curtis Oct 8 at 12:41
  • Perhaps I misunderstand "early protestant church," but the Luther tune is largely whole notes with some half notes, which is why I chose it as a counterexample. But "restricted" doesn't mean that someone imposed a restriction; it's just describing what exists. And the fact that it was a reaction against chant is not inconsistent with the fact that many tunes were adaptations of chant. – phoog Oct 8 at 12:48
  • I edited my answer to make the specific point about Calvin and a general similarity in other hymnals. My understanding of this history is the simple rhythm was a restriction from Calvin. – Michael Curtis Oct 8 at 14:12
  • @MichaelCurtis - the OP is unfortunately discounting the Baroque period, so technically Bach's invaluable compendium that you've referenced here is outside the OP's scope. – jjmusicnotes Oct 8 at 14:32

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