Voice Leading Practices
- Keep the common tone (the tone shared by both triads) and move the remaining two upper voices stepwise to the chord tones of the next triad. If handled correctly, the roots of the chords will be doubled.
- If you cannot keep the common tone, especially when the soprano voice descends scale degrees 2 to 1, move all three upper voices in similar motion to the nearest chord tone. If handled correctly, the roots will be doubled.
- Keep both common tones and move the remaining upper voice stepwise. If handled properly, the roots of the two chords will be doubled.
- Move the three upper voices in contrary motion to the bass, making sure that each voice moves to the nearest chord tone of the next chord. If handled correctly, the roots of the two chords will be doubled. An exception is the progression V to vi or VI. In this case, double the third factor of the vi or VI triad. Only two upper voices will move in opposite direction to the bass.
- Maintain proper doubling and range of voices, and keep the usual order of voices (soprano, alto, tenor, and bass). Otherwise, you are quite free to exchange chord factors among voices. Sometimes a change of position takes place (example: I to I6).
- One general stylistic practice statement suffices for voice leading in first-inversion major and minor triads as they occur in chorales or hymns: Double any triad factor that facilitates smooth voice leading. Favored notes are the soprano (found often) and bass (slightly less common). Never double the leading tone (seventh scale degree). Observe general recommendations regarding voice ranges, order of voices, and spacing.
- Double the third (bass note) or fifth factor. The bass note is preferred. Move all voices with as much stepwise movement as possible. Avoid melodic skips of a tritone.
- Double the third (bass note) or the root, which will be in an upper voice. When approaching or leaving the iio6 triad, make voice leading stepwise whenever possible and avoid melodic tritones.
- Summary of Stylistic Practices for 6/4 Chords (in second inversion):
- Except under unusual circumstances, double the bass note (5th of the chord).
- Approach and depart from 6/4 chords with as few skips as possible.
- Only in the arpeggiated 6/4 chord is the bass note approached or left by skip.
- Use only the four types of 6/4 chords described second-inversion triads (below): cadential, passing bass, arpeggiated bass, and pedal bass.
10. Resolve the seventh of the V7 chord down one scale degree in the same voice. In the few instances where the resolution tone is not present, either keep the seventh as a common tone or move it by the smallest melodic interval possible.
11.All four factors of the V7 chord are usually present, but for smoothness of voice leading, the fifth may be omitted and the root doubled.
12. Resolve the seventh factor of the viiØ7 or viiø7 (and inversions) down one diatonic scale degree.
13. Resolve the root of the viiØ7 and viio7 upward to the tonic note.
Avoid parallel P5ths between third and seventh factors in resolving the half-diminished seventh chord (c and e). Double the third factor of the tonic triad to avoid these parallels (e and f). In four-part writing, this configuration occurs only when the third is below the seventh.
Although the half-diminished leading-tone seventh chord (viiØ7) contains only one tritone, the fully diminished type (viio7) consists of two (root to fifth and third to seventh).
It is possible for both tritones to resolve properly (b). Nonetheless, parallel unequal fifths (d5 to P5) are observed in literature and are sometimes written by composers in preference to a tonic triad with a doubled third (d). When writing an unequal fifth in the viiØ7 to i progression, try to resolve at least the root-to-fifth tritone whenever possible.
Most often the root is doubled both in I and in V, but the 5th and 3rd of I and the 5th of V are also possibilities. Never double the leading tone (3rd of V)
14. Resolve the seventh factor of nondominant seventh chords one diatonic scale degree down to the third factor of the next chord (in circle progressions). Otherwise, resolve the seventh factor down one step if its resolution is a part of the following chord.