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MUS 111-112 Part-Writing Quick Reference Guidelines

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MUS 111-212
Part-Writing Quick Reference Guidelines
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Voice Ranges
Keep the top three voices within an octave of each other.
The distance between the bass and tenor can be of any reasonable interval (never
greater than two octaves).

Triad Position
A triad is in close position when the distance between the soprano and tenor is less
than an octave--no other chord tones can be written between the soprano and tenor
voices.
A triad is in open position when the distance between the soprano and tenor is
more than an octave--another chord tone besides the alto voice could be written
between the soprano and tenor voices.

Safe Doublings
As a general rule, the tonic, subdominant and dominant tones in a key can be
doubled freely.

Usual Doublings
Root position: Double the root.
First inversion: Double the soprano note.
Second inversion: Double the bass note.
EXCEPTIONS:
Minor triads (root or 3rd in bass): The 3rd is often doubled, particularly if the 3rd
is the tonic, subdominant or dominant note of the key.
Diminished triad (usually in first inversion): Double the 3rd; when the 5th is in
the soprano, double the 5th.

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MUS 111-112 Part-Writing Quick Reference Guidelines

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Augmented triad: Double the bass note.


Seventh chord: Usually all four voices are present. In the major-minor 7th chord,
root in bass, the root is sometimes doubled and the 5th is omitted.
Altered triad: Avoid doubling the altered tone unless it is the root. Otherwise,
same as non-altered triads.

Chord Connection
Move each voice the shortest distance possible.
Move the soprano and bass in contrary or oblique motion if possible.
Do not double the leading tone, any altered tone (including the #6 and #7 scale
degrees in minor), any nonharmonic tone, or the 7th of any chord.
Avoid parallel 5ths and parallel octaves between any two voices, and the
augmented second (A2) in a melodic line.

Triads in Root Position


Repeated Roots: When roots in the bass are repeated, the two triads may be
written in the same position (open or close), or they may be in different positions.
Triad positions should be changed:
when necessary to keep voices in correct pitch range;
when necessary to maintain a voice distribution of two roots, one 3rd
and one 5th;
to avoid large leaps in an inner voice.
Roots a Fifth/Fourth Apart (one common tone):
Retain the common tone; move the other voices stepwise; the roots of
both chords should be doubled.
Or, do not keep the common tone, especially when the soprano
descends from scale step 2 to 1; move all three upper voices in similar
motion to the nearest chord tone; the roots of both chords should be
doubled.
Or, move the 3rd of the first triad by the interval of a fourth to the 3rd
of the second triad; hold the common tone and move the other voice
by step.
At the cadence, the root of the final triad may be tripled, omitting the
5th.
Roots a Second Apart (no common tone):

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Move the upper three voices in contrary motion to the bass, making
sure each voice moves to the nearest chord tone of the next chord; the
roots of both chords should be doubled.
EXCEPTION:
In the progression V-vi or V-VI, double the 3rd factor of the vi or VI
chord. Only two upper voices will move in opposite direction to the
bass.
Roots a (M/m) Third Apart (two common tones):
Keep both common tones and move remaining upper voices stepwise;
the roots of both chords should be doubled.
GENERAL EXCEPTION:
When it is impossible or undesirable to follow conventional
procedures, double the 3rd in the second of the two triads; however, if
this third is the leading tone or any altered tone, double the third in the
first of the two triads.

Triads in Inversion
When one of the two triads is in inversion, write to or from the doubled note first,
using oblique or contrary motion if possible, and then fill in the remaining voices.
When both triads are in an inversion, each triad must have a different doubling to
avoid parallel 5ths and/or octaves, or the same doubling may appear in a different
pair of voices.
As always, avoid doubling the leading tone or any altered tone.
Approach and leave each doubled tone as prescribed.
FIRST INVERSION:
Double any factor that facilitates smooth voice-leading. Favored notes are the
soprano (most common) and bass. As always, do not double the leading tone.
Voice-leading for the viio6:
Double the 3rd (bass note) or 5th factor; bass is preferred. Move all
voices with as much stepwise motion as possible. Avoid melodic
skips of a tritone.
Voice-leading for the iio6 in minor:
Double the 3rd (bass note) or the root, which will be in an upper
voice. When approaching or leaving the iio6, make voice-leading
stepwise whenever possible, and avoid melodic tritones.
SECOND INVERSION:

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Except in unusual circumstances, double the 5th (bass note) of the chord.
Approach and depart second inversion with as few skips as possible; only in the
arpeggiated second-inversion chord is the bass note approached or left by skip.
Use only the four types of second inversion chords described: cadential, passing
bass, arpeggiated bass and pedal bass.

Nonharmonic Tones
A nonharmonic tone temporarily replaces a harmonic tone. Approach and leave
any nonharmonic tone according to the definition of the NH tone being used.
Consider an accented nonharmonic tone as one of the chord tones, so that when it
resolves, the chord displays conventional doubling.

Seventh Chords
The 7th usually resolves down by step.
All four factors of the V7 are usually present, but, for smoothness of voice-leading,
the fifth may be omitted and the root doubled.
If the resolution tone is not present (rare), keep the 7th as a common tone, or move
it as little as possible.

Stuff NOT to do ...


Avoid parallel 5ths, 8ths or unisons. (Successive perfect intervals are not
considered parallel.)
Avoid doubling the leading tone (7th scale degree).
Avoid the melodic augmented 2nd (A2) and augmented 4th (A4) in all voices.
Do not write pitches out of the range of the given voice. Keep all four voices
within their ranges at all times.

Stuff you can OCCASIONALLY do ...


Avoid crossing voices. Keep voices in proper order from highest to lowest
(SATB). On rare occasions crossing of voices is justified if it improves voiceleading.
Do not overlap two adjacent voices unless unavoidable. An overlap occurs
between two chords when one voice moves above or below the previous pitch of
an adjacent voice. Overlaps of a half- or whole-step may be employed if it
improves voice-leading, and there is no acceptable alternative.
Avoid moving in the same direction to perfect intervals in the two outer voices
(S/B). Such motion creates the effect of parallel perfect intervals.
Unequal fifths, e.g., P5 to d5, or vice versa, are found and may be used sparingly.

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MUS 111-112 Part-Writing Quick Reference Guidelines

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Melodic augmented 2nds and 4ths are almost never found in chorale literature of
the 18th century, however:
The melodic descending diminished 5th (d5) appears sometimes in the
bass voices, but rarely in the soprano.
The diminished 4th (d4) is a diatonic interval in the harmonic minor
scale (from the 3rd scale degree down to the 7th), and may be written
in isolated situations.
The leading tone should progress upward to tonic when in an outer voice (S/B).
Exceptions are rare.

vii7 and viio7


Resolve the 7th of the vii7 and viio7 (and inversions) down one diatonic scale
degree.
Resolve the tritone (root to 5th) inward if a d5, and outward if an A4, whenever
possible.

Nondominant 7th Chords


Resolve the 7th of nondominant seventh chords one diatonic scale degree down to
the 3rd of the next chord (in circle progressions). Otherwise, resolve the 7th down
one step if its resolution is a part of the following chord.

Secondary Dominant Chords


Resolve the 7th of the V7/? down one scale degree in the same voice.
All four factors of the V7/? are usually present.

Secondary Leading-Tone Chords


For the viio6/?, no established voice-leading pattern exists, but double bass note,
avoid skips of a tritone, and move all voices with as much stepwise motion as
possible.
Resolve the 7th of the viio7/? or vii7/? (and inversions) down one diatonic scale
degree.
Resolve the tritone (root to 5th) of the secondary leading-tone chord inward if a d5
and outward if an A4, whenever possible.

Borrowed Chords
Altered tones are seldom doubled. Otherwise, follow the guidelines for all
borrowed chords as they appear in the parallel minor or major keys.

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MUS 111-112 Part-Writing Quick Reference Guidelines

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Neapolitan 6th Chord


Double the 3rd (bass note) of the chord whenever possible. Move upper voices in
contrary motion with the bass, and avoid chromatic voice-leading in leaving the
N6. When N6 proceeds to the tonic chord in second inversion, watch out for
parallel 5ths.

Augmented Sixth Chords


Resolve the +6 interval outward (in contrary motion) by half-step to an octave.
Neither of the two tones forming the +6 is ever doubled. In the Italian 6th, double
the 3rd above the bass note.
To avoid parallel 5ths, the German 6th proceeds to the tonic six-four instead of V
(the eventual chord of resolution).
In major keys, when the Gr6 progresses to the tonic six-four, the P5 above the bass
is spelled as a doubly augmented 4th to avoid chromatic spelling of resolution
(upward to the 3rd of the tonic).

9th, 11th & 13th Chords


For V9, the root, 3rd 7th and 9th are usually present. The 7th and 9th resolve down
to the 3rd and 5th of the tonic triad.
For V11, the root, 7th, 9th and 11th are usually present. The 11th is retained as a
common tone (tonic note), while the 7th and 9th resolve down to the 3rd and 5th of
the tonic triad.
For V13, the root, 3rd, 7th and 13th are usually present. The 13th is usually in the
soprano and resolves a 3rd downward to the tonic factor of the tonic chord. The
7th resolves down by step to the tonic's 3rd.

Altered Dominants
Take the 5th in the direction of the alteration: raised pitches up; lowered pitches
down.
Remember to resolve the 7th of the chord downward by step, even if it results in a
nonstandard doubling of the tonic triad.
Altered tones are almost never doubled.

Chromatic Mediants
Double the root of chromatic mediants, even if this results in doubling an altered
tone.
Resolve as smoothly as possible, even if chromatic voice-leading results.

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MUS 111-112 Part-Writing Quick Reference Guidelines

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"Quickie" Rule-of-Thumb Doubling Chart


POSITION & CHORD
TYPE
Root Position, M/m triads

DOUBLE
Root
Soprano
(or Bass)

First inversion, M/m triads


Second inversion, M/m
triads
First inversion, dim. triads
(viio6 and iio6)

Bass
Bass

Summary of Doubling Practices


Major keys: I
Minor keys: i
1st & 2nd
12
choices:
Root
RPosition
S
1st Inv.
B
2nd Inv.

ii

iii
iio6

IV
III

V
iv

vi

viio6
VI viio6

12 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 12
R- -- R- R- R- R- R- R3 3R --

S B - S S S S S*B S 3 3 R B B
B B B B
B- -- -- ---- -- B- BB- --

*Never double the 3rd of V (leading tone).


R=Root, S=Soprano, B=Bass, 3=3rd of triad, "-" = Either no practice,
or does not apply.
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10/04/2015