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Part-writing, or writing for an SATB texture, requires knowledge of voice-leading, and chord doublings, that is how chords are written, or spelled.

In a four-part texture, students are often working with three-note chords and need to choose a fourth pitch, requiring them to double one of those notes. In some cases, root position seventh chords may be written without a fifth and an alternate note must be chosen.

Below are a list of doublings for basic triads and seventh chords when found in regular chord progressions, those that start on I, move towards V, and return to I. You should have these doublings commited to memory. In some cases there are more then one way to spell a chord, or doubling.

These doublings work for both major and minor keys.


Root Position Chords

  • I,IV,V
    1. Double the root
  • V7
    1. Complete - all four pitches present
    2. Double the root, omit the 5th
  • ii
    1. Double the root
    2. or double the third 3rd
  • ii7
    1. Complete - all pitches are present
    2. Double the root, omit the 5th
    3.   Double the 3rd, omit the 5th
  • iii
    1. Double the root. Try to use I6 instead.
  • vi
    1. As a pre-dominant chord: double the  root
    2. In a deceptive cadence, (V-vi): double the 3rd
  • viio
    1. Generally not found in root position in a regular chord progression.  Use V6 instead.
  • Diatonic 7th chords
    1. Complete - all pitches present
    2. Double the root, omit the 5th. Exceptions: In vii7 chords that function as dominant chords, all pitches must be present.

First Inversion Triads

  • I6 IV6 V6
    1. Double the root
    2. Double the 5th
  • ii6
    1. Double the 3rd
  • viio6
    1. Double the 3rd when used as a dominant type chord, viio6 - I
  • vi6
    1. Double the 3rd. Try to use I instead
  • iii6
    1. Generally, consider using a V chord instead.


2nd Inversion Triads

Second inversion triads require special care. Generally, double the bass note.


Exceptions

Exceptions, of course, exist. They occur in particular situations, for example, in some prolongations, and especially sequential passages.

[ Modified: Thursday, 19 May 2016, 2:57 PM ]
 
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by Thomas Evdokimoff - Monday, 5 October 2015, 10:34 AM
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Basic Harmony, Intermediate Harmony, Advanced Harmony, Counterpoint

In harmony, we learn how to write chord progressions in a four-part setting, and in keyboard style. The task at hand is to connect a series of chords in a way that retains the individual lines of music, soprano, alto, tenor, and bass. To acommplish this task, students learn a collection of rules and senarios. For basic chord progressions, ones that move from the tonic chord through to the dominant, then resolve back to the tonic, students can apply three basic principles of voice-leading in order.

  1. Resolve any active tones
  2. Connect voices by common tone
  3. Move any remaining voices by step or small skip.


Active tones include the tritone pair in dominant-type chords (leading tone and subdominant of the current key), the seventh of a chord, and any chromatically altered chord tones.

Two different versions of the progression V7-I will serve as examples.

principles of voice-leading


In the first example, the V7 chord is complete, it has all four pitches present. The bass is taken care of since both chords are in root position. The focus will be on solving the upper voices.

The V7 chord has two active tones, the leading note and the subdominant note of the key. In C major, they are B, identified as LN, and F, as SD, respectively.  These are the active tones of the chord that must be resolved first.  The three principles apply in order:

  1. Resolve active tones:
    the leading note rises by step to C, while the subdominant falls by step to E
  2. Connect common tones:
    there are no common tones in the remaining voice.
  3. Move the remaining voices by step or small skip:
    the D moves down by step to C, here creating an incomplete I chord with the root tripled and the fifth omitted.



The second example shows an alternate spelling of V7 with the root doubled and the fifth omitted. Notice how voice leading applies here.

principles of voice-leading

  1. Resolve active tones:
    the tritone resolves as before, B to C, and F to E
  2. Connect common tones:
    G moves to G
  3. Move any remaining voices by step or small skip:
    there are no remaining voices
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by Thomas Evdokimoff - Thursday, 24 September 2015, 11:00 AM
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Preparatory Rudiments of Music, Music Penmanship


In RCM Music Rudiments of Music, penmanship counts. Most of the notes and rests are fairly straightforward to write. Sometimes, however, students need help writing quarter-note rests. I tell my students "Write a zig-zag-zig, and a C in a single stroke." This approach creates a quick, simple and clear rest.

quarter-note rest 1

The rest's placement on the staff also counts. For single line music, which is what students are writing in Rudiments, the rest should fill up the staff, but not go beyond it.

quarter-note rest 2

RCM examiners will deduct up to a percentage point for rests that are not properly placed on the staff, so it is worthwhile to take a few minutes to learn how to write them.

[ Modified: Friday, 25 September 2015, 4:14 PM ]
 
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