AP Music Theory Voice Leading in the Style of Bach Chorales

General Characteristics of Chorale Writing: 1. Texture: 4 voices: Soprano & Alto (Treble Clef), Tenor & Bass (Bass Clef). 2. Rhythm: Simple, note lengths are equal to one beat or longer. 3. Melodic Contour: Melody moves primarily stepwise, is interesting but simple, and contains one focal point per musical phrase. 4. Leaps: Do not use augmented intervals, 7ths, or intervals larger than an octave. a. Melodic intervals larger than a P4 are usually best approached and left in the direction opposite to the leap. b. Consecutive smaller leaps should outline a triad. Voice-Leading in Chorale Style: 1. Chord Tones: All notes of each triad are present in each chord. a. When chord members are doubled to create 4 parts, the root is usually doubled. 2. Contour of Voices: Voices most often avoid moving in the same direction. a. The direction of each voice is varied (moves up and down within phrase) b. Leaps larger than a P4 are rare in soprano, alto, and tenor (upper 3 voices) 3. Chord Structure: Chords at cadences (PAC, IAC, Plagal, Half) are usually in root position to indicate a strong stopping point in the music. Types of Motion Between Voices: 1. Parallel: 2 voices moving in the same direction by the same interval

2. Similar: 2 voices moving in the same direction but at different


3. Oblique: 1 voice stays stationary while the other moves

4. these intervals “stick out” in the texture and were considered to have an inelegant sound in the part writing of the Baroque period and before. especially when there is a leap in the soprano part. Contrary: 2 voices move in opposite directions Movement Between Voices in Parallel and Similar Motion: 1. Play through the following examples to hear how each type of voice leading sounds: . In the style of Bach. Parallel 5ths and Parallel 8ves: Two voices separated by a fifth or octave in two adjacent chords should be avoided. Play through the following examples to hear the difference between: Parallel 5ths: parallels: Voice leading without 2. Direct 5ths and 8ves: Two voices that move in similar motion toward a fifth or octave should also be avoided.