Step 5: Time to fill in the other notes from each chord.
Since there are only 3 notes in each chord, and we are writing for 4 different «parts», we will double the root, or the bass note from each chord to get 4.
So, let's look at the score. Hmm...
We have already written two parts. The top note in this example is a C, and the bass is also a C. So, what notes are missing from the first chord?
Right! E and G.
I will try to put G in the second voice, or «alto». Stems down (to help separate the voices visually).
I will give the "tenor" an E. I’ll choose low E for now, since I would cross over the soprano otherwise (and she'd be crossed!: )). Stems up.
Step 6: Next chord. Now, stick to a very easy rule and you will keep a nice smooth sound going:
When selecting the next note for each part, try to use the smallest movement possible. Stay on the same note if you can. Be super lazy! The best is to keep the alto and tenor part very «boring».... For now!
In our example the next chord is the Tonic again, in this case a C major chord. The melody has a G, and the bass a C. What’s missing?
Right! Another C (double the root) and an E. The tenor has an E, I'll keep that, but "unfortunately" the alto has to jump a fourth to a C. It is OK, though.
SOME BASIC RULES
- Let the four parts move in different directions (up, down or same note) if possible, even if only one does it’s OK.
- According to the rules of 4 part harmony, or Bach Choral style writing, thou shalt not have any parallel fifths, fourths or octaves... (This means any 5th, 4th or octave intervals moving to another of the same.)
OK, alright. I like parallel fifths and fourths (just think about the famous intro riff in «Smoke on the water») but for this exercise we’ll stick to the rules. Later, use what you want- and with abandon if you like!
So watch out for any parallel movement: Are there any hard rockers there? If there are, switch the alto and tenor notes, or change the octave they are in, but don’t change the melody or the bass.
Step 7: The next chord is a Subdominant, or an F major chord. I have A in the melody and F in the bass. I need another F and a C. So, the alto stays on C and the tenor lazily moves a semitone to F. Great!
Continue like this until the end of the melody. (It’s a bit like knitting, isn’t it?)
Check the pattern and how each part moves: As smooth as possible, contrary motion if possible, and no parallel 5ths, 4ths or Octaves.
This was an example of super-simple 4 part harmony. And if you followed along from lesson 1 and lesson 2, you have now you own little composition in your hand. I bet you did it snazzier than the crumpled example above! : )