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Thread: Four-Part Harmony Exercise

  1. #16
    MMus, MA, PGCE JumpingJack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonR View Post
    OK, here's attempt #2...

    Yes, this is better (I'm just looking at the new bits):


    Chord 7: still has more than an octave between alto and tenor


    Chord 9: The fifth is rarely doubled in this chord, but it's not "wrong" to do so.


    Chords 13-14 You have "hidden" or "exposed" fifths here; bass and soprano approach a perfect fifth in similar motion.


    Otherwise, it's good.

  2. #17
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    Here's my take for the whole exercise:

    EXERC_2-complete_zps25ae551f.jpg

    The second phrase was done with any help from the program checker. So I have a few concerns, mainly related with voice ranges (large intervals between voices) and hidden fifths and octaves. Regarding this one, for ex i chord 11, there's an octave between soprano and alto that is approached by similar motion. But I think (correct me if I'm wrong) it is acceptable sice the soprano is moving by step.

    Anyway, this is it for now!

  3. #18
    MMus, MA, PGCE JumpingJack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbarata View Post
    Here's my take for the whole exercise:

    This is very good.
    No serious problems at all.


    To nitpick, chord 7 and 14 would be more stylistic in root position (Bach usually had his authentic cadences so), but what you have done is not "wrong".
    Also, chords 11 and 13 are identical. Again, this isn't "wrong", but a bit more variety would be more interesting. Also, the leap down and then up in the bass here is a bit bumpy; a smoother solution would be preferable.




    But as I said, very good indeed.
    You're ready to take the stabilisers off now; ready for the next stage!
    I suggest the next exercise should be in a minor key, and it might also be a good idea to introduce the dominant seventh (Jon used it in his solution above if you want to see a few examples). I'll explain more about these things as part of the exercise (which I'll post when I've found something suitable).


    This exercise will remain in case anyone else wants to have a go. I'll post a simplified "Bach" version here eventually, but I'll give others a bit more time first.

  4. #19
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    Please note that my knowledge of the minor scale is very limited. I know the scales but the relationships between chords and so on is near to zero.
    But let's go!

  5. #20
    MMus, MA, PGCE JumpingJack's Avatar
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    Exercise Two - The Minor Key

    For people comfortable with the major key, this next exercise is going to be slightly different. I am introducing the minor key. (I was going to introduce the dominant seventh too, but that might be too much all at once. I'll save that for exercise three instead). For any new people, feel free to complete the fist exercise before attempting this.

    The Minor Key
    As you may know, there are several forms of the minor scale; natural, melodic and harmonic. Check in any music theory book (or search online) if you're not sure of the difference.

    The minor key includes the notes from all of the minor scales. That means there are two forms of both the sixth and seventh notes of the key. They can occur according to key signature, or they can be raised by one semitone (half-step). These alterations are still considered part of the key, so they are not "chromatic" notes. The raised sixth and/or seventh is never indicated in the key signature, but is written as an accidental as and when required.

    For the purposes of these harmony exercises, you should primarily stick to the Harmonic Minor. This is your default set of notes that you should work with in any minor key. This means that you should get into the habit of raising the seventh note of the key each time it occurs; in A minor for example, every time you write a G (in any part), you will have to put a sharp sign (#) before the note to change it to G#. In C minor, the seventh note is Bb and this is included in the key signature; whenever you write a B you will therefore have to put a natural sign before the note to change it to B-natural.

    Having said that, there are exceptions:
    Whenever you have the sixth note of the scale moving directly up to the seventh, you will have to raise the sixth note too. So in A minor for example, if you have an F before your G# in any one part, you will have to sharpen the F too (this is to avoid the ungainly augmented second).
    If you ever have the seventh note falling down to the sixth instead of rising to the tonic (which I advise you to avoid, as rising to the tonic is usually preferable), you should NOT sharpen the seventh (or the sixth).
    Both these exceptions effectively use the Melodic Minor instead.

    Raising the seventh creates a stronger pull to the tonic, but it does significantly increase the likelihood of augmented intervals occurring between consecutive notes in the same part (as you may recall, these should never occur). Therefore, you should always check that sharpening the seventh has not introduced any augmented intervals in any part; if it has, you should rewrite the part accordingly. Also note that there is another augmented interval from the (unsharpened) sixth note of the minor key up to the second which must likewise be avoided.

    Using the harmonic minor then, chords i and iv are minor chords, V and VI are major, ii and vii are diminished, and III is augmented (notice how different this is from the major key).

    All of the "rules" that you have already learnt from the major key apply equally to the minor key., however there are some extra restrictions:

    Chord III, as an augmented chord must NEVER, EVER be used in the minor key.

    Chord ii is diminished. As with chord vii in the major key, it should NOT be used in root position. It can however be used in first inversion, but you should generally double the bass (third).

    Tierce de Picardie (AKA Picardie Third)
    The major triad is inherently more stable than the minor, and so it became customary to end a piece in the minor key on the tonic chord of the parallel major. Bach did this in most of his minor-key chorales, and the practice continued into the Classical period. So basically, this means that when in a minor key, it's a good idea to sharpen the third of the final tonic chord. In A minor for example, finish with an A major chord (by sharpening the C). This is not a mandatory rule, but it will make your harmonisation more stylistically authentic.


    With all that in mind then, here is Exercise Two:
    Below are two phrases of the Soprano line of a chorale. Your task is to add parts for Alto, Tenor, and Bass to complete a four-part setting in the style of J.S. Bach. Use diatonic chords in root position and first inversion. Change chord (or position of chord) on each note.
    Tip: Remember to raise the seventh note of the minor key by including the appropriate accidental.
    Tip: The first phrase ends with a half-cadence.

  6. #21
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    For the purposes of these harmony exercises, you should primarily stick to the Harmonic Minor. This is your default set of notes that you should work with in any minor key. This means that you should get into the habit of raising the seventh note of the key each time it occurs; in A minor for example, every time you write a G (in any part), you will have to put a sharp sign (#) before the note to change it to G#. In C minor, the seventh note is Bb and this is included in the key signature; whenever you write a B you will therefore have to put a natural sign before the note to change it to B-natural.
    So, basically, if I understood correctly, the key signature reflects the Natural minor but one should work, when writing, with the Harmonic minor. Hence the raising of the seventh.
    Everytime an exception occurr with the 6th or 7th (sixth note of the scale moving directly up to the seventh or the seventh goind down to the sixth instead of rising to the tonic) we should work with the melodic minor.

    Am I correct?

  7. #22
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    JJ - here's my attempt #3 at the first exercise. I corrected the two errors you pointed out - hopefully without creating more! - but retained that doubled 5th in chord 9; couldn't quite see an easy way out (without affecting other chords).
    jj_ex3.jpg
    (Chords 12-14 have what feels to me like an awkward jump in the tenor. Is that a problem? And have I missed anything else?)

    I'm enjoying this, and will have a crack at exercise #2...

  8. #23
    MMus, MA, PGCE JumpingJack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonR View Post
    JJ - here's my attempt #3 at the first exercise.
    Good, except you've introduced parallel octaves between soprano and bass in chords 12-13!

    The tenor is a bit bumpy, but it doesn't break any specific rule as such (you've followed it by movement in the reverse direction which is good). Still, a smoother solution would be preferable.

    Glad you're enjoying it

  9. #24
    MMus, MA, PGCE JumpingJack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbarata View Post
    So, basically, if I understood correctly, the key signature reflects the Natural minor but one should work, when writing, with the Harmonic minor. Hence the raising of the seventh.
    Everytime an exception occurr with the 6th or 7th (sixth note of the scale moving directly up to the seventh or the seventh goind down to the sixth instead of rising to the tonic) we should work with the melodic minor.
    Yes, that's essentially correct.
    As I said earlier, it would better to get used to thinking of one "minor key" (with two variable notes) rather than several different scales, but if that helps for now then fine.

  10. #25
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JumpingJack View Post
    Good, except you've introduced parallel octaves between soprano and bass in chords 12-13!
    Aagh!
    Quote Originally Posted by JumpingJack View Post
    The tenor is a bit bumpy, but it doesn't break any specific rule as such (you've followed it by movement in the reverse direction which is good). Still, a smoother solution would be preferable.
    OK, does this fix it?
    jj_ex1_4.jpg
    I should probably kick myself if it does...

    Meantime, here's an attempt at the next exercise:JJ_ex2_Gm1.jpg(Yes, I've been a bit sneaky at the end...)
    Last edited by JonR; 07-24-2014 at 11:50 AM.

  11. #26
    MMus, MA, PGCE JumpingJack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonR View Post
    OK, does this fix it?
    Yes... except I also noticed that chord 12 is missing the fifth. Inversions should always be complete (not omit any notes).
    But that's a relatively small thing, generally it's good.

    Quote Originally Posted by JonR View Post
    here's an attempt at the next exercise
    Chord 1: It would be nice if the bass here was an octave lower, so it could leap an octave. - That would be a very stylistic beginning (as I mentioned earlier).

    Chord 3: This doesn't work.
    The F in the alto would need to be raised, except that would turn it into a root position diminished chord which should not be used.

    Chord 4: The seventh here is not prepared.
    In this style, all sevenths except V7 need preparing by having the note in the same part of the previous chord.

    Chord 13: A tonic seventh is apt to be ineffective and should be avoided (the seventh isn't prepared either).

    Otherwise, there's some good stuff (like the TDP at the end - nice).


    Another general tip for everyone:
    Try if possible to have either chord V or vii in the first few chords of the piece (with the leading note rising to the tonic). This establishes the key and thus provides a context for the harmonisation. This is especially important with minor keys as a prolonged absence of the leading note (the raised seventh) can obscure the tonality and make it sound more like the relative major.

  12. #27
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JumpingJack View Post
    Chord 1: It would be nice if the bass here was an octave lower, so it could leap an octave. - That would be a very stylistic beginning (as I mentioned earlier).
    OK - don't know why I didn't think of that.
    Quote Originally Posted by JumpingJack View Post
    Chord 3: This doesn't work.
    The F in the alto would need to be raised, except that would turn it into a root position diminished chord which should not be used.

    Chord 4: The seventh here is not prepared.
    In this style, all sevenths except V7 need preparing by having the note in the same part of the previous chord.
    OK thanks - that's two things I didn't know!
    Quote Originally Posted by JumpingJack View Post
    Chord 13: A tonic seventh is apt to be ineffective and should be avoided (the seventh isn't prepared either).
    ...that too.
    Quote Originally Posted by JumpingJack View Post
    Otherwise, there's some good stuff (like the TDP at the end - nice).
    Thanks. I'll see what I can do about the rest (and I take your last tip on board).

  13. #28
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    Whenever you have the sixth note of the scale moving directly up to the seventh, you will have to raise the sixth note too.
    One question about this one... if I have a doubled sixth note and in one voice it goes up directly to the seventh and in another it goes down to the fifth, what shall I do? My intuition is telling me to raise both...

  14. #29
    MMus, MA, PGCE JumpingJack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbarata View Post
    One question about this one... if I have a doubled sixth note and in one voice it goes up directly to the seventh and in another it goes down to the fifth, what shall I do? My intuition is telling me to raise both...
    No, you cannot double a raised sixth.
    Double another note instead.

    Remember not to use chord vi built from the raised sixth; it is a diminished chord and should be avoided.

  15. #30
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    This happend because I was trying to start the first phrase with a Im - IVm...I'll try a different voicing...I'll always have the possibility to start with an anacrusis, if nothing else works.

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