Questions tagged [voice-leading]

The craft of writing multipart music such that all notes are transitioned to in a "smooth" or "harmonious" manner consistent with common practice harmony.

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26
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5answers
37k views

What is Voice Leading?

In both classical music and jazz, we often encounter the concept of voice leading. What is it?
17
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5answers
22k views

How to differentiate between a diminished fifth and an augmented fourth interval?

Both are a tritone appart, both sound the same. How can we differentiate when an interval is an augmented fourth or a diminished fifth? Context: In voice leading we learn that when the spelling of ...
15
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7answers
3k views

How do you voice extended chords?

If I have a Cmaj13 chord, it uses 7 notes. Basically all the notes of the scale. In a previous question, I was told that you rarely play all 7 notes for a 13th chord. So how do you know which ones to ...
11
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5answers
2k views

“Only open voicing below middle C!” Really?

Every resource I've seen and person I've talked to has said that putting low voices, usually trombones, in close spacing anywhere below C4 is to be avoided at all costs, due to muddiness. As I arrange,...
11
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3answers
630 views

Are minor sevenths allowed in baroque counterpoint?

Are minor sevenths allowed in baroque counterpoint? I ask because in the first measure of Bach's Invention No. 1 the upper voice and lower voice have an interval of a minor seventh (the upper voice ...
11
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3answers
20k views

Common Practice Music Theory - Easier method to memorize 4-part harmony doubling rules?

My main question is in the title above. Chords in Common Practice Style only have three notes, so in 4-part harmony (SATB), one note will be repeated. In music theory, there are a ton of doubling ...
10
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8answers
2k views

Doubling the third of a root position major chord in four-part harmony

In a manual for four-part harmony that I am reading, it is suggested to avoid doubling the 3rd of a root position major chord, as it sounds harsh. On a minor root position chord however, it is ...
10
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4answers
4k views

Voice leading confusion

I perfectly understand the theory of voice leading when explained in most theory books about moving voices between chords in the shortest possible manner to give a smooth connection between chords. ...
9
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2answers
1k views

Expanding the I-IV progression

I wanted to make the I-IV progression a little more interesting by having the I fall a third to its relative minor, vi, before moving to IV (so, I-vi-IV). I do like the melodramatic I-vi progression, ...
9
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1answer
7k views

What are the rules for using diminished chords in part writing?

If I use diminished chords such as ii diminished chord from the minor scale then do I according to the rules for proper part writing use the first inversion of ii diminished. What is the reasoning ...
8
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5answers
2k views

Tonality and Rules

One can find many books on "tonality"during the common practice period. e.g., Piston. Tonality seems to be definable as the way in which composers express the chromatic scale in a organized way ...
7
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5answers
2k views

Is two singing voices occasionaly being unison “allowed”?

I was writing a lower harmony to an existing (rock) lead voice with a given chord progression and there is a point in time, where it seems like the two voices need to sing the very same note. The only ...
7
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3answers
572 views

Can the leading note resolve down?

Would like to ask if the leading tone in chord V (G) could resolve downwards to Eb (fifth of chord I)? I’ve somehow recall reading that the rule (leading note MUST resolve to tonic) only applies to ...
7
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2answers
1k views

Voice-leading with three chords in first inversion?

Hey guys just keeping my part writing skills sharp (not flat) for the long summer. I got this out of Assignment 9.4 of Robert W. Ottman's "Elementary Harmony." It's in G♭ major. I was already given ...
7
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3answers
1k views

What led to the historical predominance of the four-part harmony in Western Music?

Introductory music theory heavily empasizes analysis and writing of music with four-part harmony, putatively the basis for music at the beginning of the common practice. Why did four-part voice ...
6
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4answers
393 views

Do 4-part harmony rules also apply to piano arrangements?

Does rules in 4-part harmony also apply to piano arrangements ? Like for example no doubling the 3rd note of the chord, or moving in parallel 5, etc.
6
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4answers
4k views

How to harmonize a melody for 4 voices

Recently I've started encountering a multitude of questions that ask for me to harmonize a melody. I've never really seen a question like that before, so I've been a bit lost as to where to start. I ...
6
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1answer
149 views

Neo-Riemannian Theory, The Minor Plagal Cadence, and Chromatic Voice Leading

In my reading, a criticism that I have heard leveled against Neo-Riemannian theory is that it does not explain the smooth chromatic voice-leading possible in the iv - I instance of the plagal ...
6
votes
1answer
186 views

What's voice leading and how does it work?

What's is voice leading and how does it work? I'd really appreciate a thorough answer. What I mean by how it works is how is it achieved and what's the basis of it?
5
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2answers
1k views

Are these parallel octaves?

I am writing a chorale in C flat major and I currently have a 3 chord going to a I6 chord. Stacked, the chords are EGEB to EGEC. Is this considered parallel octaves? HELP.
5
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4answers
3k views

Looking for software that checks for voice leading mistakes in MIDI, MusicXML, or MuseScore formats [closed]

I've been learning voice leading with a mixture of on-line classes and some reading. Receiving feedback for exercises can be troublesome sometimes. I was thinking if there is a way to cut that ...
5
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3answers
540 views

Maximum interval between Alto & Tenor, & intervals when writing for SATB

What is the maximum interval permitted between the Alto & Tenor when writing for SATB? I have read it should not be more than a 10th, whereas another source said it should not be more than an 8th. ...
5
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1answer
380 views

What’s the voice leading error?

I am looking for a voice leading error or chord construction error in this example but can’t seem to find one. Any pointers would be great!
5
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2answers
2k views

Are consecutive 3rds allowed in harmony?

In harmony, is it okay if there are consecutive 3rds in ii-V progression in two different bars?
5
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1answer
1k views

What is the proper chord interpretation for the intro to Stairway to Heaven?

The opening sequence in Stairway to Heaven is an A minor chord followed by something strange followed by C/G, D/F#, and Fmaj7. I've seen the second chord notated as Am/G#, G#aug, and even Am/maj7/add2....
5
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4answers
581 views

Is contrary motion a requirement when approaching a cadence?

Do the upper parts in all cadences move in contrary motion to the bass.if I write it like that, am I wrong? Or is it only for adjacent chords?
5
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2answers
812 views

Omitting the 5th in four part counterpoint

When writing four part counterpoint in context of the common practice period it is common to omit the 5th of a chord when in a jam. Is it always ok to omit the 5th and are there times when the 5th of ...
5
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4answers
2k views

How do “voice-leading”, “part-writing”, “polyphony” and “counterpoint” differ?

What are the differences in meaning and usage between “voice-leading”, “part-writing”, “polyphony” and “counterpoint”? According to Wikipedia: Voice-leading is “the term used to describe the linear ...
5
votes
1answer
104 views

Parallel octaves in left hand chords

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. ...
5
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2answers
177 views

Geometric Voice Leading Presentation

I'm coming from a non-academic background and just trying to understand the rules of voice leading for pursuing a future composing career. I've always found difficulties in understanding this topic on ...
5
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1answer
183 views

When does one omit the fifth in V7 chord in classical harmony?

The textbooks on classical harmony that I have read (Leo Semlek, "Klassikalise harmoonia lühiõpik" ["A Short Textbook on Classical Harmony"] and "Klassikalise harmoonia õpik" ["A Textbook on Classical ...
4
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3answers
807 views

Do the notes of a chord form parallel octaves, even when they are not played simultaneously?

Here is an example of what I'm trying to say The sample below is in Bb major. Do the notes of the bass and the alto form parallel octaves? On the alto voice I'm using delayed resolution. On the ...
4
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2answers
992 views

Voice-leading and Composition

This is a follow up to a post I made a couple of months ago regarding the way the four-part harmony voice-leading, taught in most harmony texts, is to be understood in relation to composition. In the ...
4
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2answers
163 views

How should six-four chords be resolved?

In the point deduction section of the AP Music Theory exam guidelines, it says: The 6th or 4th of a 6 4 chord is unresolved or resolved incorrectly. What exactly does this entail?
4
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1answer
118 views

Tenor part written higher than the Alto part in SATB

I have read that Bach in his chorales wrote the tenor part high (frequently using ledger lines for this). Another source said that the Tenor part would be written higher than the Alto part - for ...
4
votes
1answer
215 views

What harmonic devices approach the tonic's root from a semitone above?

Usually, a dominant will have two voices approaching the tonic's root. Most traditionally, the leading melody comes from a semitone below, while the other (generally the bass) simply jumps between the ...
4
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5answers
2k views

Locked Hands Passing Chords

For the "locked hands" block chord style, I've noticed that diminished chords can be used as passing chords to get from one chord to another or one melody note to the next if staying on the same chord....
4
votes
1answer
370 views

Are repeated octaves permissable in four-part SATB?

I am writing a four-part SATB (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) and wanted to know if repeated (that is, successive) octaves are permissible? I know that parallel fifths/octaves are not allowed, but what ...
4
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3answers
1k views

Does the bass always have to harmonise with the lead?

I have written a half decent lead, at least for my level, and I am now trying to harmonise a bass with it. I am employing one of the most basic kind of methods to achieve this - playing the root note ...
4
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3answers
81 views

What does Satb theory say about moving octave C into a perfect fiftth?

On a piano you could play octave C moving to G-D. The high C moves up to D and the lower C moves up to G. X:1 L:1/2 M: K:C %%score B V:B clef=bass % 1 [V:B] [C,C] [G,D] What would four-...
3
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4answers
546 views

Parallel fifths and power chords

Don’t power chords, used frequently in rock and pop songs, break the voice leading rule of no parallel fifths? As long as one of the other instruments (second guitar, bass) is playing the thirds of ...
3
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3answers
806 views

Does the rule regarding consecutive octaves/fifths actually hold any weight?

I have a melody in which I am trying to write a chord progression for. One of the rules of thumb is to finish a chord progression on the tonic if it precedes a chord of a 5th, and especially of a ...
3
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3answers
2k views

Chord progressions : which note resolves to which note

In the key of C , going from G to C, note B resolves strongly to note C. How should the note D resolve? (To note C or E? I guess it should be to note C, assuming the key note has higher "priority". ...
3
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3answers
154 views

Is there a rule in SATB writing regarding the Soprano & Bass moving in contrary motion?

While writing a melody over a bass line, it is generally advised to have the melody & the bass line moving in contrary motion to each other. I want to know if such a rule also exists when you ...
3
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2answers
222 views

Is there any rule I violated in my 4-part harmony exercise?

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.
3
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3answers
528 views

What is the purpose of voice-crossing here?

I'm starting to work through Fux's Gradus ad Parnassum. For the two-voice, first-species, Phrygian-mode, lower-voice exercise (p. 36 on the first Google result for "Fux Gradus"), Aloys says that he ...
3
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2answers
403 views

Voice leading/resolution of consecutive secondary dominant 7ths

What's the proper voice leading procedure when two consecutive secondary dominant seventh chords (with the same root chord) occur before the resolution to the root chord? For example V7/ii -> V42/ii ->...
3
votes
1answer
150 views

Reason for voice-crossing in Mahler's Symphony 1

I was reading through the full score of Mahler's Symphony No. 1 today to see how it's orchestrated and hopefully learn a few things from it. This particular bar from the first movement interested me: ...
3
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2answers
366 views

In Four Part Writing, is an augmented unison interval in a single voice allowed?

I'm composing a traditional four-part part-writing piece with a soprano, alto, tenor and bass. The song progresses from a F Major chord to an A Major chord. In the former chord, the bass is on C, and ...
3
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3answers
730 views

Is raising the flat 7th scale-degree of a mode to become a leading tone to the final still modal?

So for example, taking mixolydian mode, the third of the vm7 chord (the flat seventh of the mode) is raised to create a V7 chord (as commonly occurs in tonal music in a minor key) which is then ...