MUSIC 110 PROGRESSION CHECKLIST

This sheet has two purposes: the check list, and some thoughts on making progressions. Use the checklist to check any homework you turn in. The thoughts on making progressions we will discuss in class.

Check Each Chord

Chord Content

Every chord must contain root and third of chord; no open fifth.

An incomplete triad with tripled root and a third or two roots and two thirds, or a dominant seventh with two roots, third and seventh, are possible if those using those alternatives produces smoother (stepwise) voice leading. Do not use these alternatives unless they make smoother voice leading or avoid chord connection problems like unwanted parallels, overlapping or voice crossing.

Dominant (V) chord must be major in both major and minor keys; raise the third of the dominant chord (seventh tone of the scale) in minor key (like harmonic minor).

Do all of the notes in the chord belong to I, or V, or V7 of the key? For now, these are the only possibilities.

Is the chord the one specified by figured bass, Roman numerals or letter names?

Special Bass Check: Make sure the note in the bass is the one specified by the figured bass or required by the exercise. Determine whether the written bass note is the root, third, fifth or seventh of the chord; then make sure it is the one specified.

 

Chord Spacing

Chords may be in open or close spacing; changing from open to close or close to open spacing happens frequently in four voice textures.

There should never be more than an octave between soprano & alto and between alto & tenor voices.

 

Chord Doubling

Double root unless another doubling produces better (stepwise) voice leading.

Never double the leading tone in a dominant (V) or leading tone (VII) chord..

Never double the seventh in a dominant seventh chord.

 

Check each voice

Range

Make sure soprano, alto, tenor and bass are within the normal range of each voice, (In keyboard spacing OK for tenor to go higher than normal tenor range.)

Steps

Steps should predominate in the upper voices; the bass line will skip more often between roots of chords. Avoid the augmented second in minor.

Leaps

All consonant melodic leaps (3rd, perfect 4th, perfect 5th, 6th, octave) are allowed. In general, no dissonant leaps&emdash;this means no seventh leaps. OK to leap down diminished fifth in major or minor (from 4th to 7th scale degree) or diminished fourth in minor (from 3rd to 7th scale degree) if next note is a step up.

Leaps by fifth will dominate the bass line, especially at first; the soprano should use leaps sparingly, to create an interesting contour. Inner voices should move primarily by step; avoid leaps larger than a fourth or fifth in inner voices.

General guideline: a leap followed be a step in the opposite direction is always effective. The larger the leap, the more this becomes essential. Leaps of 3rd, perfect 4th or perfect 5th are often followed by a step in the same direction; leaps of a 6th or octave always require a change of direction in the line, usually by step.

Consecutive leaps in the same direction must outline a major or minor triad.

 

Check each chord connection

Movement from one chord to another should usually involve a mixture of parallel, similar, contrary and oblique motion. Avoid all four voices moving in the same direction, especially by leap.

Consecutive fifths and octaves

If there is the interval of an octave or perfect fifth between 2 voices in a chord, make sure that same interval does not recur between the same 2 voices in the next chord.

Movement into an octave or perfect fifth in similar motion

If the interval between soprano and bass is an octave or perfect fifth, then make sure that if the two voices move in similar motion to the octave or fifth, then the soprano moves by step.

Voice Crossing

Tenor and alto may cross occasionally if the crossing produces better melodic lines and/or makes the voice leading smoother in these parts. Do not cross bass with tenor or soprano with alto.

Voice overlap

Avoid overlapping voices; it is usually preferable to change from closed to open or open to closed spacing from one chord to the next.

 

Check tendency tones

Half Steps in Scales

Half steps call for special care.

The half step between 7 and 8 in major and with the raised 7th degree in minor is especially sensitive point melodically. In general, the leading tone should proceed to the tonic, especially in minor, unless there is a reason&emdash;which might well be to get a complete chord by making the leading tone jump down to a chord tone.

Other sensitive points are the half step between the 4th and 3rd scale degrees in major and between the 6th and 5th scale degrees in (natural) minor. These are less compelling than the leading tone, but making progressions which use their potential to move strongly by half step from above to the 3rd scale degree in major and the 5th degree in minor will lead you to many beautiful progressions.

It is especially important to respect these tendencies in the soprano voice; use will to give the melody a very strong sense of direction.

The Tritone in the V7 chord

Major and minor with raised 7th scale degree have a tritone between the 4th and 7th scale degrees ; this interval appears in the V7 chord. When possible, resolve it so both the 7th degree and the 4th degree move by half step in contrary motion; this makes a very strong resolution.

Dissonant tones in chords

The 7th in the dominant seventh (the 4th degree of the scale) differs from every other chord tone; it produces two dissonant intervals in the V7 chord&emdash;a minor seventh with the root of the chord (scale degrees 4 and 5, a whole step apart) and a tritone with the 3rd of the chord (scale degrees 4 and 7). This dissonant tone MUST resolve down by step to the third of a tonic chord, wherever it appears in the chord; it may NOT move up by step. (The 7th can, however, be moved from one voice to another, by extending the V7 chord, before it resolves; this produces a very special effect.)

 

MAKING THE TEXTURE WORK

Function of the Soprano

The soprano carries the main melodic line. It needs to have an interesting contour. It is especially important to resolve tendency tones&emdash;leading tone&emdash;in the soprano voice, and to create melodic drive toward the final cadence.

Function of the Bass

The bass voice defines the succession of chords; the bass line supports the soprano voice by making explicit its harmonic meaning.

Function of Alto and Tenor

Alto and tenor complete the tones of the chord framed by the soprano and bass; their contour is less important than their role in connecting the chords.


MAKING PROGRESSIONS

MELODIC SHAPE + HARMONIC DIRECTION = PROGRESSION

What creates melodic shape?

An interesting contour that moves toward and ends on a tone in tonic chord (1st., 3rd or 5th note of scale) or dominant chord (5th 7th or2nd note of scale) as goal of movement. Ending on the 2nd or 7th note of the scale creates a very open effect melodically&emdash;you are a step away from the tonic note; ending on a note of the tonic triad (1st, 3rd or 5th of scale) is more closed; but a melodic phrase always sounds somewhat open unless the melodic phrase ends on the tonic note

What creates harmonic direction?

A chord progression that ends on tonic or dominant harmony; unless an unexpected effect is desired, these are the ONLY chords for ending a phrase for several centuries!

Phrases end harmonically open (on V), half cadence or harmonically closed (on I), authentic cadence; when a closed harmonic cadence on I has the tonic note in the soprano it is maximally closed, and called a perfect authentic cadence.

 

THE POWER OF HARMONY GROWS OUT OF HOW A SINGLE CHORD CAN BE STRETCHED OUT IN TIME. WE BEGIN OUR STUDY BY SEEING HOW TONIC AND DOMINANT CHORDS CAN BE EXTENDED IN TIME, USING ONLY THOSE TWO CHORDS IN ROOT POSITION.

 

Ways to extend the tonic chord, from least movement to most movement away in the soprano voice from scale degrees in tonic chord (1, 3, 5) to notes to scale degrees in dominant harmony (with 7th) (5, 7, 2, 4). Note that, except for the 1, what happens in the soprano is always supported by I==>V==>I in the bass.

 

1. CHORDAL SKIP (I only). Move within the tonic chord in the Soprano, keep the root of the chord in the bass, harmonize the soprano with shifts in spacing and doubling of the tonic chord. Successive chordal skips can extend the tonic triad without chord change over a long period of time; in a single exercise three successive skips is a maximum

2. USE COMMON TONE (I==>V==>I) Keep the 5th degree of the scale in the soprano (5Ë5Ë5). Chord progression from I to V then back to I under the soprano: bass moves from root of I to root of V to root of I; inner voices move by step to the nearest chord tones.

3. MOVE AWAY FROM AND BACK TO NOTE IN TONIC CHORD WITH NEIGHBOR TONE (I==>V==>I ): Soprano moves scale degrees 1==>7==>1, 1==>2==>1, 3==>2==>3. Chord progression from I to V then back to I under the soprano: bass moves from root of I to root of V to root of I; inner voices move by step to the nearest chord tones. Note that these vary greatly in effect; half step neighbor notes in the soprano voice are considerably more intense than whole step neighbors. Note that at this point the fifth of the tonic triad has no usable neighbor tones.

4. FILL THIRD IN TONIC TRIAD WITH A PASSING TONE (I==>V==>I) Soprano moves scale degrees 1==>2==>3 or 3==>2==>1. Chord progression from I to V then back to I under the soprano: bass moves from root of I to root of V to root of I; inner voices move by step to the nearest chord tones.

5. SAME AS 2, but use V7 chord.

6. SAME AS 3, but use V7 chord. Note that there is one new neighbor possibility in the soprano that is used a great deal: 3==>4==>3.

7. SAME AS 3, but use V7 chord. Note that the soprano can now fill the upper third of the tonic triad will a passing tone: 5==>4=>3; but because the passing tone is the 7th on the V chord, it can only progress down at this point in our work.

8. LINK THESE TOGETHER:

CHORDAL SKIP + COMMON TONE: 3==>5==>5==>5 or the reverse.

CHORDAL SKIP + NEIGHBOR TONE: 1==>3==>2==>3 or the reverse

CHORDAL SKIP + PASSING TONE: 1==>3==>2==>1 or the reverse.

DOUBLE NEIGHBOR: 3==>2==>4==>3 or the reverse (note that this one begins to extend the dominant chord; both 2 and 4 are in the V7 chord.

NEIGHBOR NOTE + FILL IN THIRD: 1==>7==>1==>2==>3 or the reverse

 

MANY MORE POSSIBILITIES!

 

CAN DOMINANT HARMONY ALSO BE EXTENDED? YES!!

HERE'S THE DOMINANT PERSPECTIVE…

1. CHORDAL SKIP (V only). Move within the dominant chord in the Soprano, keep the root of the chord in the bass, harmonize the soprano with shifts in spacing and doubling of the dominant chord. This can also be done with the V7 chord, but the chord is much more unstable&emdash;a resource! Successive chordal skips can extend the dominant triad or dominant seventh without chord change over a long period of time; in a single exercise three successive skips is a maximum

2. USE COMMON TONE (V==>I==>V) Keep the 5th degree of the scale in the soprano (5==>5==>5). Chord progression from V to I then back to V under the soprano: bass moves from root of V to root of I to root of V; inner voices move by step to the nearest chord tones.

3. MOVE AWAY FROM AND BACK TO NOTE IN DOMINANT CHORD WITH NEIGHBOR TONE (V==>I==>V ): Soprano moves scale degrees 7==>1==>7, 2==>1==>2, 2==>3==>2. Chord progression from V to I then back to V under the soprano: bass moves from root of V to root of I to root of V; inner voices move by step to the nearest chord tones. Note that these vary greatly in effect; half step neighbor notes in the soprano voice are considerably more intense than whole step neighbors. Note that at this point the root of the dominant triad has no usable neighbor tones.

4. FILL THIRD IN DOMINANT TRIAD WITH A PASSING TONE (V==>I==>V ): Soprano moves scale degrees 7==>1==>2 or 2==>1==>7. Chord progression from V to I then back to V under the soprano: bass moves from root of V to root of I to root of V; inner voices move by step to the nearest chord tones.

5. SAME AS 2, but extend V7 chord.

6. SAME AS 3, but extend V7 chord. Note that there is are new neighbor possibilities in the soprano: 4==>3==>4 and 4==>5==>4

7. SAME AS 3, but extend V7 chord. Note that the soprano can now fill the third fifth to seventh of the dominant seventh chord: scale degrees 4==>3==>2.

8. LINK THESE TOGETHER:

CHORDAL SKIP + COMMON TONE: 2==>5==>5==>5 or the reverse.

CHORDAL SKIP + NEIGHBOR TONE: 7==>2==>3==>2 or the reverse

CHORDAL SKIP + PASSING TONE: 7==>2==>==>1==>7 or the reverse.

DOUBLE NEIGHBOR: 2==>1==>3==>2 or the reverse (note that this one extends the tonic for two chords as as a way to extend the dominant!).

NEIGHBOR NOTE + FILL IN THIRD: 2==>3==>2==>1==>7 or the reverse

 

MANY MORE POSSIBILITIES!