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Part-writing Chords: Summary II

Updated on January 24, 2014

Doc Snow’s Hubs on part-writing chords offer the chance to practice writing chord progressions yourself and to get feedback on your work! Part-writing is an essential skill for anyone wanting to truly master traditional harmony, and valuable exercise for composers, arrangers and musical analysts of various stripes.

The Muse Erato--or possibly Euterpe, who is usually seen with an 'aulos', the instrument shown; Erato carries a lyre.  Either way, she is a musician.  Photo by Steffen Heilfort, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
The Muse Erato--or possibly Euterpe, who is usually seen with an 'aulos', the instrument shown; Erato carries a lyre. Either way, she is a musician. Photo by Steffen Heilfort, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

There are now two series of part-writing Hubs, the first dealing with root-position triads, and the second with inverted triads. (A third series, devoted to the part-writing of seventh chords, is in progress.)

Series 1 has its own summary Hub, so if you are just beginning to study part-writing, that is probably where you should be. But of course you are free to browse, which is the whole point of having summary Hubs in the first place!

Outlines of both series are given immediately below. A direct link to the first summary Hub is directly below the Series I summary. Following that, the details of Series II Hubs are given in order; each has its own 'one click' link in a sidebar.

Series II

I: Part-writing Inverted Chords: Primary Triads In First Inversion

II: I: Part-writing Inverted Chords: The Supertonic In First Inversion

III: Part-writing Inverted Chords: Mediant, Submediant And Leading-tone Triads

I: Part-writing Inverted Chords: Interlude--Passing And Auxiliary Tones

V: Part-writing Inverted Chords: Second-inversion Patterns I--Arpeggio, Neighbor

VI: Part-writing Inverted Chords: Second-inversion Patterns II--Passing, Cadential

Suggested Sequence Of Hubs

Series I

I: Tonic and Dominant (I & V)

II: Tonic and Dominant Exercises

III: Subdominant (IV)

IV: Supertonic (ii)

V: Mediant and Submediant (iii & vi)

VI: Minor Keys I

VII: Minor Keys II

Series III

I: Dominant sevenths inverted

Below you will find a detailed list of the Hubs in Series II (inverted triads.) Each Hub in the list has its own link for one click convenience.

If you feel that Series I (root-position triads) is where you need to be, just use the link below to navigate directly to the series summary!

Series III (seventh chords) is in progress; so far, there is just one, a Hub on part-writing inverted dominant sevenths. The link for this Hub is also given below.

Content in PWIC 1: Primary Triads in First Inversion

  • Concept of chordal inversion
  • Advantages of inverted chords: more melodic bass lines; more varied sonority & function
  • 'Auld Lang Syne' harmonization illustrating above points
  • "Bass arpeggiation"
  • Review of 'Doc Snow doubling rule'
  • Normal doubling of inverted primary triads
  • Harmonic rhythm (and its care & maintenance)
  • "Half cadence"
  • Review example of 'similar fifth'
  • "False relation"
  • 'Minor dominant'

Content in PWIC 2: the Supertonic

  • Secondary triads illustrated
  • Normal doubling of supertonic: the chordal third
  • Part-writing advantage of ii6 over IV as dominant preparation
  • Frequent use of diminished form of inverted supertonic in minor
  • Arpeggiations of the supertonic and chord quality

Content in PWIC 3: Mediant, Submediant and Leading-tone Triads

  • Submediant and its normal doubling
  • Another chromatic line, using two forms of the submediant in minor
  • Mediant illustrated
  • 'Sequence' illustrated and applied
  • 'Apparent mediant' idiom
  • Using the augmented mediant in minor
  • Leading tone illustrated
  • 'PD' and 'DP' fifths

Content in PWIC 4: Interlude: Passing and Auxiliary Tones

  • Auld Lang Syne again: non-chord tones illustrated
  • Passing tones
  • Objectionable parallels & passing tones
  • Accented passing tones
  • Consecutive passing tones
  • False relations & passing tones
  • Auxiliary ('neighbor') tones
  • Upper and lower auxiliaries
  • Auxiliaries and 6th & 7th scale degrees in minor

Content in PWIC 5: Second-inversion Patterns I--Arpeggio, Neighbor

  • Dissonant characteristic of second-inversion triads
  • Alternating and arpeggio six-four chords illustrated: John Henry & Auld Lang Syne
  • Practice in writing alternating & arpeggio six-fours
  • Neighbor six-fours
  • Practice in writing neighbor six-fours

Content in PWIC 6: Second-inversion Patterns II--Passing, Cadential

  • Passing six-fours illustrated
  • Prolongation
  • Choice of scale form in minor key dominant prolongations
  • Passing six-fours connecting differing triads
  • Cadential six-fours illustrated
  • Roman numeral analysis of cadential six-fours
  • 'Octave drop' bass figure
  • Practice in using cadential (& other) six-four chords


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