Become a member
Become a member

or
Continue with Google
Log in
Log in

or
Log in using a Google account
learning
2 comments

Drop voicings

Harmony Basics - Part 37
Share this article

In the previous article we briefly studied the movements of each voice within the context of voice-leading, based on the motion of the root. Today we'll focus on a particular sort of voicing: drop voicings.

View other articles in this series...

“Drop” in this case refers to the downward motion of a specific note.

Let me explain what I mean.

Drops

In article 32 I introduced you to the concept of close and open position chords. As you surely remember, a closed chord refers to a chord (or inversion) that doesn’t go beyond a single octave, while an open chord can extend over several octaves. Well, one of the easiest ways to open up these chords is using the “drop” technique. This method basically consists in taking any note and moving it one octave down.

The notation

The notation

The notation of these voicing is a bit peculiar. First of all — and this is what’s most unusual about the notation of these voicings — the voices aren’t numbered in the usual order based on the root, then the third, the fifth, etc. No, in this case, the numbering is top-down, regardless of the chord inversion in question: the top-most voice is the first one, the second one is the one right underneath it, etc. Moreover, the voicings are named according to the voice that was dropped. A “drop 2” voicing, for instance, means that the second voice moved one octave down; in a “drop 3” it’s the third voice that moves down, etc.

Here are some examples:

Drop voicings 1
00:0000:00

Consequently, this notation isn’t very explicit because it doesn’t allow you to identify:

  • The note that has been dropped (since it varies depending on the inversion)

  • How many octaves the note dropped

  • How many iterations of this dropped note you create

This means you will have to determine the inversion of the chord before you can define the drop of the voicing.

The rules

There are some basic rules when creating drop voicings, like: never drop the first voice. In fact, the drop method is mainly used when when you want to keep the first voice as the melodic voice. It’s also important to note that dropping the top note of a closed chord doesn’t really open the chord, it merely results in an inversion. Hence, in the following example, dropping the A of the D chord you only get the same chord in its second inversion:

Drop voicings 2
00:0000:00

But let’s move on. To harmonize a melodic line with an open chord you first have to find the appropriate chord, as well as its eventual inversion, so you have the note you want in the top-most position.

Here’s an example:

Drop voicings 3
00:0000:00


Next you can drop one or more voices: Indeed, you can drop several voices, as the following example shows:

Drop voicings 4
00:0000:00
← Previous article in this series:
Voice movement in voice-leading
Next article in this series:
Parallel voices →
  • Joost Verelst 1 post
    Joost Verelst
    New AFfiliate
    Posted on 03/13/2018 at 00:40:36
    Hello Newjazz,
    I didn't see many comments on your articles on "Music theory". As a third year student in Harmony, I'm impressed by the clarity and compactness you explain and refresh the different topics in this field. I enjoy reading and studying them again as a lead. You write a very well and appreciated serie, which more people interrested in composing should read. Again, congratulations, and keep up the good work.
    Greetings, Joost
  • stevedaniel 10 posts
    stevedaniel
    New AFfiliate
    Posted on 03/13/2018 at 21:46:29
    I really appreciate your explanation in the article. Very nice . Keep posting and share your thoughts with us. :bave:

Would you like to comment this article?

Log in
Become a member
cookies
We are using cookies!

Yes, Audiofanzine is using cookies. Since the last thing that we want is disturbing your diet with too much fat or too much sugar, you'll be glad to learn that we made them ourselves with fresh, organic and fair ingredients, and with a perfect nutritional balance. What this means is that the data we store in them is used to enhance your use of our website as well as improve your user experience on our pages and show you personalised ads (learn more). To configure your cookie preferences, click here.

We did not wait for a law to make us respect our members and visitors' privacy. The cookies that we use are only meant to improve your experience on our website.

Our cookies
Cookies not subject to consent
These are cookies that guarantee the proper functioning of Audiofanzine and allow its optimization. The website cannot function properly without these cookies. Example: cookies that help you stay logged in from page to page or that help customizing your usage of the website (dark mode or filters).
Google Analytics
We are using Google Analytics in order to better understand the use that our visitors make of our website in an attempt to improve it.
Advertising
This information allows us to show you personalized advertisements thanks to which Audiofanzine is financed. By unchecking this box you will still have advertisements but they may be less interesting :) We are using Google Ad Manager to display part of our ads, or tools integrated to our own CMS for the rest. We are likely to display advertisements from our own platform, from Google Advertising Products or from Adform.

We did not wait for a law to make us respect our members and visitors' privacy. The cookies that we use are only meant to improve your experience on our website.

Our cookies
Cookies not subject to consent

These are cookies that guarantee the proper functioning of Audiofanzine. The website cannot function properly without these cookies. Examples: cookies that help you stay logged in from page to page or that help customizing your usage of the website (dark mode or filters).

Google Analytics

We are using Google Analytics in order to better understand the use that our visitors make of our website in an attempt to improve it. When this parameter is activated, no personal information is sent to Google and the IP addresses are anonymized.

Advertising

This information allows us to show you personalized advertisements thanks to which Audiofanzine is financed. By unchecking this box you will still have advertisements but they may be less interesting :) We are using Google Ad Manager to display part of our ads, or tools integrated to our own CMS for the rest. We are likely to display advertisements from our own platform, from Google Advertising Products or from Adform.


You can find more details on data protection in our privacy policy.
You can also find information about how Google uses personal data by following this link.