Join Our Discord

Learn Moreย ย ๐Ÿ‘‡

caret down
caret up
discord-logo

Join our Discord

1,000s of Fiveable Community students are already finding study help, meeting new friends, and sharing tons of opportunities among other students around the world! Don't miss out!ย  ๐ŸŽ‰

group of students
group of students

๐ŸŽผย ap music theory

ย ย >ย ย 

๐ŸŽนย Unit 4

ย ย โ€ขย ย โฑ๏ธ3 min read

4.1 Unit 4: Harmony and Voice Leading I

Mickey Hansen

mickey hansen

Caroline Koffke

caroline koffke

(editor)

โฑ๏ธ October 29, 2020

๐Ÿ“…

4.1: Soprano-Bass Counterpoint

Now that we have all the building blocks of notes, rhythms, and chords out of the way, we can start to analyze music and the rules of putting pitch combinations together.

https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2F-oRU0VedpoUKu.gif?alt=media&token=4ef5c95d-2a12-4cb0-9a6f-0728c06374df

The way individual voices of a composition move from chord to chord is called voice leading. Back in the 17th and 18th-century, when writing music was becoming normalized, rules of voice leading came about to guide composers on how to create aesthetically-pleasing compositions. This era is considered the Common Practice Period (CPP), and describes the years roughly between 1650 (Baroque Period) to 1900 (Romantic Period).

https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2F-U8VorWt1eXq4.webp?alt=media&token=829e96bd-b58e-4dd1-96d9-e1c8defbb400

When heeding voice leading rules, any composer (or AP Music Theory student!) must take into consideration the correct chord spelling, spacing, and doubling of notes in the chords. This way, voice leading can achieve linear smoothness and bring about the independence of voices.

https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2F-sVeBYQRfuCDW.gif?alt=media&token=4ddb4421-0463-439d-b954-1efae73a3795

In this subunit, we are focusing on the relationship between the soprano and the bass lines of a typical four-part harmony.

https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2F-XOFYXGTBqeKF.png?alt=media&token=be7eda49-ff7a-42c3-9270-34ba94892993

Number 6: "Christus der ist mein Leben"

This is a chorale in four-part harmonies, composed by Johann Sebastian Bach.

If you look in the first measure, you see that all the stems of the notes on the top in treble clef are facing upwards. This is called the soprano line. The notes also on the treble clef, but below with the stems facing down, are all the alto line. Moving to the bass clef, the notes facing up are in the tenor line, and the notes with stems going down are the bass line.

Have you ever sung in a choir? Or at least heard something with a choir? The notes above correlate with the voices in a choir.

https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2F-PDHj4fYNRnlZ.gif?alt=media&token=4d4404e8-9078-428f-a274-cdca91669c43

SATB for short!

Furthermore, in the chorale above, you can see the start of musical structure, with notes all leading to a fermata <hyperlink to Unit 2.13>.

https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2F-v5WbTD3oSPXe.png?alt=media&token=b28c06dc-f3be-46dc-9f5e-35f822f4d6d3

When you see these fermati in four-part writing, you know you have reached a cadence, or the end of a musical phrase. Not all cadences have a fermata, but especially in J.S. Bach's writing, or other chorales, phrases are ended by fermati. We will go into depth about cadences later (hyperlink to 4.3), so don't forget this definition!

In four-part writing, the lineal movement between two voices can happen in four different ways:

1) Parallel motion: voices move in the same direction (both up or both down) by the same melodic interval.

https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2F-ovBVCOcjQdTm.png?alt=media&token=6c8df746-894a-4d8a-a45d-ae491d78f87a

2) Similar motion: voice move in the same direction but not by the same melodic interval.

https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2F-vTLirRGNjTpb.png?alt=media&token=5757d82d-23b6-4b42-8d07-76cb6670150e

3) Oblique motion: one voice remains still while the second moves up or down.

https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2F-feWmhVyaqYUN.png?alt=media&token=70e65d45-212f-41f6-bdad-1be3bd1e95a4

4) Contrary motion: voices move in opposite directions.

https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2F-z60HDrd6tEUU.png?alt=media&token=a2766940-be44-44a6-9227-df70d5ce3604

Using the above categories, the composers of 18th-century voice leading developed guidelines for writing music in four-part harmonies.

https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2F-mlm7FRZeXViH.gif?alt=media&token=51b0bef7-2928-46fb-8a8b-a08d381f6196

Good question. In the table below, remember that voice leading is how voices in one chord arrive at the next chord. Here is the beginning of the guidelines! Pay attention, these will get the money points on the AP free response questions ๐Ÿค‘.

https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2F-ctXq3AQuVM26.png?alt=media&token=e638d160-8b41-43b2-b28d-724e7755d3ea

https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2F-Ostj9mmJS8tw.gif?alt=media&token=9a03bcec-569b-4481-8442-1c57ce4c07b8

In the AP Music Theory test, you will need to create a bass line to an established soprano line.

https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2F-EjqxsuQ899Rg.webp?alt=media&token=339dc075-8238-47e4-a821-637d56649a9e

How do I create a rocking bass line in the CCP?

https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2F-0YoNINvq0mAp.png?alt=media&token=4a1ebbee-d7a3-4046-8069-f3260e9e494e

Now let's get back to looking at those four-part chorales.

https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2F-gXTEGx6ivRV3.webp?alt=media&token=388f8a1c-52c2-425b-ade1-a2bb1796f2e7

There are different ways to categorize the spacing between voices on the staff. We consider them either open or closed positions.

In a closed position, all upper voices (soprano, alto, and tenor) are placed as close together as chord tones will allow. Any other spacing is considered an open position.

https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2F-o2DtgZcgg3Kk.png?alt=media&token=281e312f-57c8-429f-a803-4dcc3107fd0d

Closed position is on the left, and open position is on the right.

๐Ÿฆœ Polly wants a progress tracker: What are 3 guidelines to consider when writing a bass line from an established soprano line?

ap music theory study guides

continue learning

Slide 1 of 9
Fiveable

Join Our Discord

discord-logo

Fiveable Community students are already meeting new friends, starting study groups, and sharing tons of opportunities for other high schoolers. Soon the Fiveable Community will be on a totally new platform where you can share, save, and organize your learning links and lead study groups among other students!๐ŸŽ‰

*apยฎ and advanced placementยฎ are registered trademarks of the college board, which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse, this product.

ยฉ fiveable 2021 | all rights reserved.

2550 north lake drive
suite 2
milwaukee, wi 53211