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Thread: Bach Chorale Harmonisation

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  1. #1
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    Bach Chorale Harmonisation

    M a bit confused about using chords III and VI.
    Avoid III in major key and avoid VI in minor?
    And syllables? How do you know from the Soprano part how many syllables there are and when you are allowed to put in a passing note in the other parts or not?

    Does the 7th in a chord always have to be prepared in the same part in the chord before? What about the 9th? do you have to prepare it?

  2. #2
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    I never heard about avoiding either of those chords. Nor do I know anything about the rules of 'Chorale Harmonization '

    Maybe you can enlighten us with what you know so far?

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    Chorale harmonisation is the most basic fundamentals of harmonisation, but it's mostly for classical musicians keyboardists. Bach and his contemporaries and predecessors, laid down some fundamental "rules" for harmonising a chorale- basically a hymn. The rules are mostly to prevent it from sounding modal or to avoid awkward intervals and for other practical reasons. Does anyone know anything about Bach chorales?

  4. #4
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    Karen asked; ......fundamental "rules" for harmonising a chorale- basically a hymn. The rules are mostly to prevent it from sounding modal or to avoid awkward intervals and for other practical reasons. Does anyone know anything about Bach chorales?
    First -- as Mick said, I too have never heard to avoid the iii and vi as you mentioned.

    The little I know of this is, ".... the bass line is musically rendered. it not only creates an artistic and at the same time logical or contrapuntal relationship with the soprano line" -- I take this to mean the bass line is also melodic and augments the soprano line. That is way over my head.

    Sorry, I can not help with chorale harmony. However, there are some basic rules of harmonising we follow. For example the following is based upon connecting the scale degree of the melody with a specific chord. I hunted for this for years. Perhaps this can help.

    ___X___ Scale degree try the following chord choices:

    1st degree try -- Tonic, Subdominant, Submediant or Supertonic.

    2nd degree try -- Dominant, Supertonic 7th of Mediant 7th.

    3rd degree try -- Tonic, Submediant or Mediant.

    4th degree try -- Subdominant, Supertonic or Dominant 7th.

    5th degree try -- Dominant, Tonic or Mediant.

    6th degree try -- Subdominant, Supertonic or Submediant.

    7th degree try -- Dominant 7th or Mediant.

    Then --- because of the options you have, give some weight to which chords fits into an accepted classic progression (iii-vi-ii)--- and what sounds good. If it sounds good it's good.

    Then on the following -- from post # 14 on -- adds more information.....
    http://www.ibreathemusic.com/forums/...4&page=1&pp=15

    Beyond that I'd send you to www.musictheory.net then click on lessons, common chord progressions. Pay attention to what chords like to move to what other chords. Any chord will sound OK with any other chord within the same key, but, if we let them move where they like to go, seems to sound best.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 03-26-2008 at 09:28 PM.

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    Yea I don't know if this forum will be the best place to answer your question unfortunately. We don't seem to have a lot of experienced 'classical theorists' here.

    Can I ask though. What kind of experience do you have on this subject so far? Maybe you can fill us in on what you know. Or at least, where did you hear you cant use those chords. Teaching yourself from a book ? If its just a language barrier maybe we can find the answers. I'm interested.

  6. #6
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    Avoid III in major key and avoid VI in minor?
    Yeah this is for stylistic considerations. Baroque harmony doesnt use mediant relationships as they were considered weak at the time. [referring to chord iii here.] It becomes quite important when you get into 19th century though. Chromatic transformations etc.

    Does the 7th in a chord always have to be prepared in the same part in the chord before? What about the 9th? do you have to prepare it?
    Dont know exactly what you mean by the 7th been prepared but in this context the 9th is always prepared as it is considered a suspension not a chordal extension. Remeber to follow the rules in this case:

    Prepare the 9th in a chord to which it is a true chord tone

    Tie it over to the following chord in which it now becomes a 9th

    Resolve downwards to complete the 9 - 8 suspension.

    Hope this helps

    P

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    I've not have much experiance either, I've been studing it for a year, because it's in the exam (a levels) for music, and my diploma.
    I have a theory teacher but have hardly had any lessons with him, since he's always busy and cancels our lesson, I can't e-mail him cause I don't know his e-mail, and besides we are not really talking right now...
    Basically, I read from my notes that you can't use III in a major key unless it has modulated to the relative minor because it is the rel minor to the tonic key.
    And I don't know why you're not allowed to use IV, but it says not to in my notes...
    I've been harmonising a chorale from a book the other day and couldn't figure out what to use, the bass and soprano lines are given, and I just need to fill in the T and A parts, it has figures underneath too, ei. numbers like 64 and 7 to tell you which notes you're meant to be using, sounds easy, but isn't when you're not clear which are allowed and not, I was stuck on a chord cos I find the only availiable one is VI and i'm in a minor key.
    Last edited by Karen Au; 03-27-2008 at 01:18 AM.

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    Thanks Malcolm, went to the website, it didn't have anything on Bach chorales, but found the N6 lesson useful cos I never really knew what they were or when to use them

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    Here's the thing, all these rules you are learning are the rules you want to break later. I use parallel fifths all the time, I love bVI chords, I don't prepare the 7th properly, and I just use 9ths whenever it sounds good. The rules are only good for creating period works in the style of say, Bach, but even Bach broke the "rules" constantly, he only played by them fairly strictly in his chorales. If you are wanting to learn to compose in a different style, which I would imagine you are, only pay attention to these rules for the purposes of your test.

    [EDIT] I just read that you are indeed trying to work out a Bach chorale, so disregard the rest of my post
    Last edited by jessmanca; 05-15-2008 at 04:08 AM.

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    Ive never heard to avoid certain chords in Bach Chorales, all i was taught was how you harmonise the chords, and proper movement from one chord to another, and writing out cadences for four voices properly.

    And yes, you do have to prepare a 7th. Its lots of bother putting in a 7th, because that affects 3 chords rather than one. In the first chord (the one before the seventh chord) you need to "prepare" the seventh.. which basically means you sound it. The next chord is your seventh chord, and the chord after is your "resolution". 7ths always resolve to the next chord. I was only taught dominant 7ths (i only had to do cadences in the course) and you have to resolve it by putting the 3rd of the seventh, up a semitone to the tonic of the I chord.

    But anyway, use all the chords you want for now, because i think you should get good at simply writing them properly with regards to cadences and voicings.
    Last edited by Flash; 05-15-2008 at 06:52 PM.

  11. #11
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    Karen - I came across this today, I hope you find it useful.

    http://homepage.ntlworld.com/terence...0positions.pdf
    Crack Sheep are coming to steal your crack.

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