(musTh1) Harmonizing Melodies, Voice Leading Reductions

Harmonizing Melodies:

  • Analyze the melody for scale degrees.
  • Figure out possible chords for each scale degree. (Write them below the lower staff.) Only I, IV, and V are permissible for now.
  • Choose harmonies for each scale degree (or group, if slower harmonic rhythm). As you choose harmonies, you eliminate harmonies that would create bad progressions (you need to avoid V – IV, in both major and minor).
  • Write the bass line according to your harmonic choices (root position chords for now). Check for bad parallels.
  • Fill in the inner voices.

Making Voice Leading Reductions:

  • Start by analyzing harmonies, and label them with Roman numerals. Circle NHT’s.
  • On a grand staff, notate the main chord tones of the bass line as quarter notes (black note heads with stems), with the stems going down.
  • Add Roman numeral harmony labels below the bass.
  • Notate the essential tones of the soprano voice on the upper staff as quarter notes with stems up. Add the scale degrees of the soprano above the staff (with carets, ^).
    • If there is more than one chord tone in the soprano per harmony, decide which chord tone creates the essential line by trying to connect them to other essential tones. Favor stepwise motion over leaps, although it is possible that there would be more leaps than is usual in four-voice texture. 
    • Remember, you are looking for the essential melodic outline. It will probably not be as interesting as the melody. 
  • Pickup notes do not get a stem. Just use a black note head.


Leave a Reply