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ChoraleGUIDE: writing four-part harmony in the style of Bach

Method - Step 4: Adding inner parts

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The alto and tenor parts anchor the texture and make the progression of chords sound smooth and coherent. It does not matter if they seem boring - their role is to support the counterpoint between the soprano and bass.

There are two basic principles:

  1. the inner parts should be as stepwise as possible - avoid unnecessary. If you can use the same note in an inner part from one chord to the next then you should. See the page on leaps from the Double SLAP voice-leading rules.

  2. in order that the texture is not too bottom heavy, the inner parts should be as high in the texture as possible. If there is a large gap, it should be between the tenor and bass. See the page on spacing from the Double SLAP voice-leading rules.

In addition, you need to be aware of the doubling guidelines (i.e. which note of the triad you should double).

The following example adds inner parts to the bass and soprano from the previous stages. If you have written a good bassline, you should not have too many problems with avoiding voice-leading problems. Remember to check your work carefully using the Double SLAP.

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© Copyright Thomas Pankhurst