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1-2  VOICE MOTION

6. Voice Motion

Good part writing depends on the smooth connection of the individual parts and their independence of motion. The term "motion" is used to describe the relative change in pitch of two or more voice parts. Voice motion is usually described in simple intervals. The four types of motion are similar, parallel, contrary, and oblique.

a. Similar motion occurs when two voices move in the same direction but produce different numerical interval names (Figure 1-12).

Figure 1-12. Similar Motion

b. Parallel motion occurs when two voices move in the same direction and produce the same (numerical) interval name (third, sixth, etc.). Interval quality (perfect, Major, minor, augmented, or diminished) is not considered in determining parallel motion. A Major third to a minor third is parallel motion (Figure 1-13).

Figure 1-13. Parallel Motion

NOTE: When voices move in the same direction, the motion can be called direct motion. Similar and parallel motions are direct motion.

c. Contrary motion occurs when two voices move in opposite directions (Figure 1-14).

Figure 1-14. Contrary Motion

d. Oblique motion occurs when one voice sustains or repeats while the other voice moves (Figure 1-15).

Figure 1-15. Oblique Motion

NOTE: When voices move in dissimilar directions, the motion can be called indirect motion. Contrary and oblique motions are indirect motion.

SELF REVIEW EXERCISE 1-5

Write the type of voice motion in the corresponding blanks provided below the measures. On the second line write whether the motion is direct or indirect. The first measure has been done for you (Figure 1-16).

Figure 1-16. Identify Voice Motion

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7. Objectionable Voice Motion

a. Crossed Voices. Crossed voices occur when the soprano does NOT have the highest pitch, the alto the second highest, the tenor the third highest, or the bass the lowest pitch. Do not write crossed voices (Figure 1-17).

Figure 1-17. Crossed Voices

b. Overlapping Voices. Overlapping voices occur when two adjacent voices move in similar or parallel motion and the lower voice ascends to a pitch above that just left by the upper voice. Overlapping voices also occur when the upper voice descends to a pitch below that just left by the lower voice. Do not write overlapping voices (Figure 1-18).

Figure 1-18. Overlapping Voices

NOTE: Measure 1 of Figure 1-18 also has a spacing error between the alto and tenor voices.

c. Parallel Voices.

(1) Parallel perfect primes, perfect fifths, perfect octaves, and dissonant intervals (seconds, sevenths, augmented, and diminished) should be avoided. Do not write parallel primes, fifths, octaves, and dissonant intervals (Figure 1-19).

Figure 1-19. Objectionable Parallel Voices

NOTE: Parallel perfect fifths and parallel perfect octaves are usually called parallel fifths and parallel octaves. Repeated notes are not considered parallel fifths or octaves.

(2) A hidden fifth or octave occurs when two voices approach a fifth or an octave in similar motion. A hidden fifth or octave is objectionable only when it occurs between the soprano and bass voice, and the soprano is approached by a leap (Figure 1-20).

Figure 1-20. Objectionable Hidden Fifth and Octave

(3) Parallel fifths and octaves by contrary motion occur when two voices move by contrary motion from one interval to the same interval. An octave to unison has the same effect. Do not write parallel fifths or octaves by contrary motion (Figure 1-21).

Figure 1-21. Objectionable Parallels by Contrary Motion

SELF REVIEW EXERCISE 1-6

Correct the crossed voices. Use only the exact pitch (octave) indicated to complete the exercise (Figure 1-22).

Figure 1-22. Correct Crossed Voices

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SELF REVIEW EXERCISE 1-7

Draw a solid line to indicate the overlapping voices and draw a dotted line to indicate the overlapped voices in each measure. Write the names of the voices overlapping and the notes that overlap. There may be more than one overlapping voice in each measure. The first one has been done for you (Figure 1-23).

Figure 1-23. Identify Overlapping Voices

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SELF REVIEW EXERCISE 1-8

Draw a line to indicate the objectionable parallel motion in each measure. Label parallel fifths with a bracket and the number 5 and parallel octaves with an 8. The first one has been done for you (Figure 1-24).

Figure 1-24. Identify Objectionable Parallel Motion

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SELF REVIEW EXERCISE 1-9

Draw a line to indicate the objectionable hidden motion in each measure. Label hidden fifths with a 5 and hidden octaves with an 8. The first one has been done for you (Figure 1-25).

Figure 1-25. Identify Objectionable Hidden Motion

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SELF REVIEW EXERCISE 1-10

Draw brackets to indicate the parallel voices by contrary motion in each measure. Label parallel fifths by contrary motion with a 5 and parallel octaves by contrary motion with an 8. The first measure has been done for you (Figure 1-26).

Figure 1-26. Identify Parallel Voices by Contrary Motion

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David L. Heiserman, Editor

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