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3-2  PART WRITING FIRST INVERSION PRIMARY TRIADS

5. The procedure for part writing first inversion triads is identical to part writing root position triads.

a. Keep the common tone.

b. Connect the remaining voices to the nearest available chord tones.

First, look for half step movement.
Next, look for whole step movement.
Finally, connect any remaining intervals.

c. Check your part writing for objectionable voice motions and other mistakes.

NOTE: In part writing root position triads, you followed specific scale patterns for each progression. However, when part writing first inversion triads, you must make choices that are not set patterns. Your choices are determined by the smoothest (generally the closest) voice leading.

6. Apply the part writing procedure to a progression with a first inversion chord (Figure 3-9).

Figure 3-9. Progression with First Inversion

a. First, keep the common tone. Place a C in the tenor voice (Figure 3-10).

NOTE: The second chord is a C triad (I chord) in first inversion. The notes of the chord are C, E, and G. The fourth (doubled) note can be either a C or a G. The E (the third of the chord) is already present in the bass voice. You should not use the E in any of the upper voices. The C is common to both chords.

Figure 3-10. Common Tone

b. Connect the half step movement. The only note of the triad left to voice before determining the doubled note is the G. (The C and the E have already been voiced.) The G is not a half step from either the soprano A or the alto F (Figure 3-11). Go to the next step of the procedure.

Figure 3-11. No Half Step Movement

c. Connect the whole step movement. The G is a whole step from both the soprano A and the alto F. You can place the G in either the soprano or alto voice (Figure 3-12).

Figure 3-12. Choose Whole Step Movement

d. The last voice (soprano or alto) can be either a C or a G. Remember, in first inversion triads you can double either the root or the fifth of the chord.

(1) If you placed the G (from step c) in the soprano voice, you must decide which doubled note (the G or C) is smoother voice leading for the alto voice. The G is a whole step from the previous alto note. The C is a fourth from the previous alto note. Therefore, the G is the better note to double (Figure 3-13). A skip of a fourth in an inner voice, when you have a closer voice to lead to, is poor part writing.

 

Figure 3-13. Alto Voice Movement

NOTE: If the alto voice moves down to a C, the two inner voices are doubled. Remember, it is best to double an inner voice with the soprano in first inversion triads when you have a choice (Figure 3-14).

 

Figure 3-14. Poor Voice Leading

(2) If you placed the G (from step c) in the alto voice, you can place either a G or a C in the soprano voice. The G produces smoother voice leading and is the best alternative at this time (Figure 3-15). However, the C produces a melody line (soprano) with a skip. (This can be important in keeping the melody line interesting for exercises in the next lessons.) Both movements are correct.

 

Figure 3-15. Soprano Voice Movement

e. Check your part writing for mistakes.

NOTE: Understanding how to part write first inversion triads is essential to basic part writing skills because you must make decisions that are not set patterns. You must determine which note is the best to use for each upper voice. When you part write root position triads (and second inversion triads in Lesson Four), each voice follows a set pattern.

7. Follow the procedure again.

NOTE: Until you become proficient at part writing, you can, if you wish, spell the chord below the bass line. Place possible doublings in the spelling at the end (in parentheses). Cross off each letter (note) as it is voiced (Figure 3-16). (Cross off the third of the chord as you spell the chord because it is already in the bass voice.)

 

Figure 3-16. First Inversion Progression

a. Keep the common tone. The common tone (G) is in the tenor voice (Figure 3-17). (Cross off the letter G below the staff.)

 

Figure 3-17. Common Tone in Tenor Voice

b. Connect the half step movement. The D is not a half step from E or C. Therefore, there is no half step movement (Figure 3-18). Go to the next step.

Figure 3-18. Look for Half Step Movement

c. Connect the whole step movement. The D is a whole step from either the soprano or alto note. The D can be placed in either voice (Figure 3-19). (Cross off the letter D below the staff.)

Figure 3-19. Soprano or Alto Whole Step Movement

d. The last voice (soprano or alto) can be either a G or a D.

(1) If you placed the D (step c) in the soprano voice, the best voice leading for the alto voice is a D (Figure 3-20).

Figure 3-20. Alto Voicing

(2) If you placed the D in the alto voice, the best voice leading for the soprano part is a D (Figure 3-21). Doubling the D is better than doubling the G (a second instead of a fourth).

Figure 3-21. Double the D in Soprano

e. Check your part writing for any mistakes.

8. Part Writing Repeated Triads.

a. When a triad in first inversion follows a root position triad with the same root, move the third (of the root position chord) to the root or the fifth of the triad in first inversion (Figure 3-22).

Figure 3-22. Movement of the Third of Triad

b. You can change position of the upper voices (Figure 3-23).

Figure 3-23. Change Upper Voices Positions

NOTE: When you have a choice between the soprano and an inner voice, you should normally maintain the common tone in the inner voice and not in the soprano. Keep the inner voices as smooth as possible (Figure 3-24).

Figure 3-24. Choose Common Tone Voice

9. Checking Your Part Writing.

a. After you have completed your voice leading, study your work. Remember, the principle of part writing is connecting the parts of one chord smoothly to the parts of the next chord (without errors). The smooth connection of voice movement is especially important for the inner voices. The melody can (and should) have disjunct motion (skips) as well as conjunct motion (stepwise movement). On occasion, moving one voice by a small interval (for example, half step) will cause another voice to move by a large interval (fourth). This may not be the best overall part writing if the fourth is an inner voice (Figure 3-25).

Figure 3-25. Large Movement Inner Voice

b. If the soprano had been an octave above the alto, the same part writing is better because the disjunct motion can be in the soprano voice (Figure 3-26).

Figure 3-26. Disjunct Motion Soprano Voice

c. To avoid the large interval skip in the inner (alto) voice (Figure 3-25), move the root of the I chord up a whole step (to the D) instead of down a half step (Figure 3-27). You can then keep the common tone in the alto voice and skip a third in the soprano. This connection creates acceptable part writing for all parts.

Figure 3-27. Smooth Part Writing I6 to V

NOTE: The above progression has a hidden fifth between the tenor and bass. This hidden fifth is acceptable because it is between the bass and an inner voice. See Lesson 1, paragraph 7c(2).

SELF REVIEW EXERCISE 3-1

Write the note in the second chord that is common to a note in the first chord. Analyze each chord (Figure 3-28).

Figure 3-28. Part Write Common Tones

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SELF REVIEW EXERCISE 3-2

Write the note in the second chord that is a half step from a note in the first chord. If no note is a half step movement, leave the example blank. Analyze each chord (Figure 3-29).

Figure 3-29. Part Write Half Steps

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SELF REVIEW EXERCISE 3-3

Write the note in the second chord that is a whole step from a note in the first chord. Analyze each chord (Figure 3-30).

Figure 3-30. Part Write Whole Steps

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SELF REVIEW EXERCISE 3-4

Write the best note for the missing voice. Choose the best note of the chord to double. Analyze each chord (Figure 3-31).

Figure 3-31. Part Write Missing Voices

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SELF REVIEW EXERCISE 3-5

Complete the part writing of Self-Review Exercises 1,2, and 3 (Figures 3-28, 3-29, and 3-30).

Figure 3-28. Part Write Common Tones

Figure 3-29. Part Write Half Steps

Figure 3-30. Part Write Whole Steps

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David L. Heiserman, Editor

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Revised: June 06, 2015