Blog entry by Thomas Evdokimoff

Anyone in the world

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, 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 ]