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Thread: Four-Part Harmony Exercise

  1. #61
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    Thanks,JJ. Please post another exercite. I am away for holidays site a limites web acesso. Anyway, everyt now and then I silêncio check the fórum. Tks again.

  2. #62
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    Before we go onto something else, I'm going to post simplified versions of how J.S. Bach harmonised the previous two exercises. So if anyone is still working on either of the two exercises in this thread, do not read the rest of this post.

    The first exercise was in G major.
    This is a simplified version of the first two phrases of Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan. The original chorale melody has been attributed to Johann Pachelbel (1690), and Bach harmonised it many times, in several different ways (settings can be found in at least 7 different cantatas, though many are very similar). The setting below is from the conclusion to Bach's first version of Cantata 69 (BWV 69a.6) which premiered in August 1723, and can be found as number 293 in Riemenschneider. The music can be seen in its entirety here, and heard as a MIDI file here.
    Notice how Bach creates an effective harmonisation using only the primary triads; I, IV and V.



    The second exercise was in G minor, and was obviously chosen to mirror the previous exercise (but in a minor key).
    It was hard for me to find a suitably simple exercise in the minor key, so I had to fudge this slightly. The two phrases here are actually taken from different chorales. My first phrase is from the start of Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten, the original melody by Georg Neumark (1657) and again, one that Bach harmonised several times. The setting below is taken from the conclusion to Bach's Cantata 166 which premiered in May 1724, and can be found as number 204 in Riemenschneider. The music can be seen here and heard here.
    My second phrase is taken from the start of O Jesu Christ, mein's Lebens Licht (BWV 335), a single chorale found as numbers 236 and 295 in Riemenschneider. The music can be seen here and heard here.


    Notice how the first 4 chords are essentially the same in both, but the tonic chord is major in the first, minor in the second (and in the second, the accidental is needed in chord V to create a leading note). Different sound, yet the same basic principles work in both major and minor keys.

    Coming next... The Dominant Seventh.

  3. #63
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    It's time to introduce something new for the next exercise, and that is the Dominant Seventh.

    Remember, all chords are built by stacking thirds. Major chords are built from a major third (eg. C-E) followed by a minor third (eg. E-G). Minor chords consist of a minor third (eg. E-G) followed by a major third (eg. G-B), and so on.

    With seventh chords, there is another third added on top of the basic triad. If you add a major third on top of a major triad, you get a major seventh chord. If you add a minor third on top of a minor triad, you get a minor seventh chord. So the principle is exactly the same, except instead of a chord of just three notes, you now have four notes.

    Other types of seventh will come later, but to keep things simple for now, we're just going to concentrate on the dominant seventh. With this, you take the normal V triad and add an extra (minor) third on top to create a (minor) seventh above the root.

    For our purposes, we're using the harmonic minor as the default, so in minor keys, chord V is a major chord (just like in major keys).

    The extra note you add (the seventh) always belongs to the key. You don't need to worry about adding any accidentals (sharps or flats).

    So in C major for example, chord V is normally G-B-D. If we add another third after D, we come to F (and this is a seventh above G). So we now have G-B-D-F.

    We add a "7" after the Roman Numeral to indicate such a seventh chord. So we call this V7.

    In figured bass, a first inversion of a seventh chord would be figured 6/5, a second inversion 4/3, and a third inversion (see below) 4/2.

    In C minor, we raise the Bb in the key signature to B-natural, and so the dominant seventh is exactly the same as in C major (G-B-D-F).

    At this point, I must stress the importance of using clear and consistent language. From now on, when we talk about the "seventh", it means the seventh of the chord, so in C major, the seventh of V7 is F. If you want to talk about the seventh note of a scale or key, use "leading note" or "subtonic" instead (which would be B or Bb in C minor, respectively).

    Because sevenths are considered dissonant, there are some extra rules regarding their treatment. In particular, the seventh must always move downwards by diatonic step. So in C major for example, the F must be followed by an E in the next chord. This is called "resolving" the dissonance.

    Also, the seventh should not be approached by leap. The note before it must either be the same note, or a diatonic step above or below.

    Any intervals of seconds, sevenths or ninths between any two parts should not be approached in similar motion.

    V7 works well in authentic cadences are should be used whenever it fits. But do not end a phrase with V7 (in a half-cadence).

    All the rules regarding chord V apply equally to V7. For example, the leading note should still rise to the tonic wherever possible. This means two notes of the dominant seventh each have a specific tendency which should be observed; with V7 in C major for example, the B moves up to C, and the F moves down to E. As such, this means the next chord will have to be either I or vi.

    However, obeying the above rules in a V-I progression when both chords are in root position is not possible unless one of the chords doesn't include its fifth (so the tonic chord has three roots and one third instead for example). With authentic cadences at the end of a phrase, Bach preferred both his chords to be complete, so he often has the leading note moving to a note other than the tonic. You are therefore free to do this (and are in fact encouraged to do so for style), but only with an authentic cadence at the end of a phrase.

    In root position, V7 is normally followed by I in root position, or possibly vi in root position (in the latter case, you should aim to double the third of chord vi).
    The first inversion dominant seventh is followed by I in root position.
    The second inversion is possible as a passing 6/4, but in this style it is best avoided (prefer vii6/3 instead).
    Remember; with inversions, all notes of the chord must be present (nothing can be omitted).

    As you now have four notes, a third inversion is also possible. This is when the seventh is the lowest note - and this still needs to fall as usual, meaning the chord needs to be followed by I in first inversion. In this style, avoid doing this for an authentic cadence as Bach liked to have his V(7)-I both in root position. Otherwise, providing you obey the above rules, you may use the third inversion freely, wherever it fits.

    Remember: The seventh always falls by step and should not be approached by leap. The leading note rises to the tonic as usual, except in an authentic cadence.


    Here are some examples in C major:


    And without further ado, here is Exercise Three:
    The aim here is to get to grips with the dominant seventh, therefore I want you to include some position of the chord at every arrow (as specified) at a minimum. This exercise is in the major key (which you should work out first).

    1. Use a third inversion here.
    2. Use a root position V7 here.
    3. Use a third inversion here.
    4. Use a first inversion dominant seventh here.
    5. Use a root position V7 here

    As always, just ask if you have any questions.

  4. #64
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    Hello, my friends

    I'm back from my holidays. I couldn't have a satisfactory internet connection so I didn't post anything in this post. But I wasn't away from "work"...I've been studying the techniques used to connect chords in root position (repeatd roots and roots with a 4th/5th, 3rd/6th and 2nd/7th apart). So, now I'm focused in this as well as on four part writing. I might take some time to give solutions to this new exercise but it doesn't mean I'm not doing it.

    I'm writing this because I think it's important that people in this forum (as especially JJ) don't feel that the efforts in "constructing" a thread like this one and being neglected, which is not the case, at least from me.

  5. #65
    MMus, MA, PGCE JumpingJack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbarata View Post
    I've been studying the techniques used to connect chords in root position (repeatd roots and roots with a 4th/5th, 3rd/6th and 2nd/7th apart). So, now I'm focused in this as well as on four part writing.
    You should of course pursue any and all avenues that interest you, but I'm willing to bet that most of the stuff you have read about "connecting" chords will already be familiar to you. This is just one area of (four-part) harmony, and from your work on this thread, I would say you have already mastered the relevant techniques, just that you may not have been consciously thinking about it this way.

    There are many methods of teaching (and learning) harmony; if you look through books for example, different authors will approach topics in different ways, but the end result is (hopefully) the same.

    Personally, I don't see a great deal of value in studying the many possible ways to "connect" chords separately (and in isolation). You end up with a long list of rules which are only applicable in certain contexts. I prefer to give more general guidelines which are more broadly applicable. - You still end up with rules (and exceptions), but I find it easer to manage.

    For example, instead of devoting several pages on how to connect various chords a fifth apart, I give general guidelines like "avoid big leaps" and "have contrary motion wherever possible".

    I'm not telling you to avoid other approaches; reading what several different authors have to say on a topic is often more fruitful than focussing on any one alone, but the point is that you shouldn't think of this as something new, just a different way of reaching the same goal.

    But no worries about the exercise. By all means leave it a bit and come back when you're ready. I'm going to be busy myself from next month so I won't have as much time for posting online anyway.

  6. #66
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    There are many methods of teaching (and learning) harmony; if you look through books for example, different authors will approach topics in different ways, but the end result is (hopefully) the same.
    You can't imagine (or you probably will) the huge amount of music theory books pdf's I have as the result of my search for books that explain each subject the way I prefer most.
    And sometimes I find myself using several books for each subject I'm studying.

    Personally, I don't see a great deal of value in studying the many possible ways to "connect" chords separately (and in isolation). You end up with a long list of rules which are only applicable in certain contexts. I prefer to give more general guidelines which are more broadly applicable. - You still end up with rules (and exceptions), but I find it easer to manage.

    For example, instead of devoting several pages on how to connect various chords a fifth apart, I give general guidelines like "avoid big leaps" and "have contrary motion wherever possible".
    I have a way of learning which is to understand why things are the way they are. For ex, in my early days in these forums, I had a lot of problems in understanding some of the subjects because I could not understand why certain things are in a certain way. I could only find a satisfactory answer to myself by reading the music history about those subjects.
    Basically, I always try to exercise the same subjects using different points of view. Sometimes it's a bit overwhelming but it has a lot of rewards in the end.

    But no worries about the exercise. By all means leave it a bit and come back when you're ready. I'm going to be busy myself from next month so I won't have as much time for posting online anyway.
    Fine! When I have my answer ready I'll post it. When you have time give me your feedback.

  7. #67
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    I'm starting the exercise today...

    I'm assuming the staff shown is the melody, right?

  8. #68
    MMus, MA, PGCE JumpingJack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbarata View Post
    I'm assuming the staff shown is the melody, right?
    Yes. The usual blurb applies (soprano is given; add alto, tenor and bass in the style of J.S. Bach).
    Obviously the main focus here is the dominant seventh, but you should still bear in mind everything else you've learned so far.

    Have fun!

  9. #69
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    Hello, myfriends

    With authentic cadences at the end of a phrase, Bach preferred both his chords to be complete, so he often has the leading note moving to a note other than the tonic.
    In this case which rules should I follow regarding the leading note? Which note is more adviseable?

    Another question... in a chord in first inversion, hiw should I double when the third is also in the soprano?
    Last edited by rbarata; 09-04-2014 at 10:25 PM.

  10. #70
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbarata View Post
    In this case which rules should I follow regarding the leading note? Which note is more adviseable?
    At cadence points, either way is acceptable.
    If you want a strictly "textbook" approach, then stick with the leading note rising to the tonic.
    If you want to do it "in the style of J. S. Bach", then have the leading note going somewhere else (in order to have two complete chords).

    As I did mention the exercise should be "in the style of J.S. Bach", I would personally recommend the latter. - This is only with authentic cadences though. At all other times, the leading note should rise to the tonic as normal (or as otherwise allowed).

    Quote Originally Posted by rbarata View Post
    Another question... in a chord in first inversion, hiw should I double when the third is also in the soprano?
    It depends on the chord and the context, but generally speaking; in a first inversion chord double either the root or the fifth, whichever leads to the best part writing.

    With diminished chords, double the third for preference.
    With two chords a step apart, doubling the third of one may be necessary - in this case use contrary motion.
    Avoid doubling the fifth of ii6/3.

  11. #71
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    All the rules regarding chord V apply equally to V7. For example, the leading note should still rise to the tonic wherever possible. This means two notes of the dominant seventh each have a specific tendency which should be observed; with V7 in C major for example, the B moves up to C, and the F moves down to E. As such, this means the next chord will have to be either I or vi.

    However, obeying the above rules in a V-I progression when both chords are in root position is not possible unless one of the chords doesn't include its fifth (so the tonic chord has three roots and one third instead for example). With authentic cadences at the end of a phrase, Bach preferred both his chords to be complete, so he often has the leading note moving to a note other than the tonic. You are therefore free to do this (and are in fact encouraged to do so for style), but only with an authentic cadence at the end of a phrase.
    I don't know what I'm missing here but I'm not understanding what is in bold letters. I can't see no difficulties in connecting a V7-I in root position:

    F -> E
    D -> G
    B -> C
    G -> C

    The only thing are the consecutive 5ths...

  12. #72
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbarata View Post
    I can't see no difficulties in connecting a V7-I in root position... The only thing are the consecutive 5ths...
    Exactly.

    Consecutive fifths are bad!

  13. #73
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    With authentic cadences at the end of a phrase, Bach preferred both his chords to be complete, so he often has the leading note moving to a note other than the tonic.
    Ok, but since the consecutive 5ths are between the root and the 5th, how does this helps me?

  14. #74
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbarata View Post
    Ok, but since the consecutive 5ths are between the root and the 5th, how does this helps me?
    It doesn't help you.
    The point is, it is simply not possible to move from a complete root-position V7 to a complete root-position I which satisfies all the rules of leading note rising to the tonic, seventh falling by step, and no consecutive fifths or octaves.

    In order to do it correctly (that is, without any consecutives), you have to either omit the fifth from one of the chords or have the leading note moving somewhere other than the tonic. Many textbooks tell you to do the former, but Bach usually does the latter.

  15. #75
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    ...or have the leading note moving somewhere other than the tonic. Many textbooks tell you to do the former, but Bach usually does the latter.
    I've read in several books and articles to use a complete V7, but put the leading tone in an inner part and take it down a M3 to the 5th of the tonic triad.

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