Become a member
Become a member
Continuer avec Google

or
Log in
Log in
Se connecter avec Google

or
learning

Parallel voices

Harmony Basics - Part 38

The previous article allowed you to get to know chords better, discussing open and drop chords. This week we'll take a look at a case where voices evolve in parallel, with a special focus on octaves and fifths. I know, I know: parallel octaves and fifths are forbidden, right? Indeed, when you want to stick to classic harmony, it is...

View other articles in this series...

The taboo of parallelism

Classic harmony has a very strict opinion regarding parallel motion. As a general rule, it prefers contrary or oblique movements, as we already mentioned in article 22. Why? First of all, classic harmony strives for the independence of the different voices. This independence is obviously lost when you make the voices move in parallel. However, as we also mentioned in the same article, parallel progressions of thirds and sixths are tolerated, because even if they certainly lose independence, the third and the sixth of a note at least enrich harmonically the note.

tierces
00:0000:00
sixtes
00:0000:00

But it's a different story when it comes to the fifth and the octave. In fact, the octave and the fifth are the two overtones most present in any given note (refer to article 4 of the "All You Need to Know About Sound Synthesis" series). So, adding the octave or fifth to the note doesn't really add anything to it, harmonically speaking. 

octaves
00:0000:00

Do note that the progression of a fifth is even more strictly forbidden than that of an octave (which do add some overall energy) because fifths are "blamed" for providing a sort of "medieval" color, which classic harmony tends to avoid. 

quintes
00:0000:00

However, there is an exception to the rule: when the second fifth is diminished and the motion is downwards. In the following example the C-G perfect fifth is followed by the B-F diminished fifth with a descending motion:

quinte diminuée
00:0000:00

Finally, as you saw in article 23, second and seventh intervals are among the most dissonant there are, which absolutely calls for a resolution. This means they can never be the subject of a parallel progression, as you can hear in the following examples:

secondes
00:0000:00
septièmes
00:0000:00

Parallelism today

These intervals sound just as dissonant to our ears as they did in the 19th century, so the rules haven't changed much in this regard. On the other hand, the rules applying to fifth and octave parallel progressions are hardly observed in modern musical styles, where harmonic simplicity is the rule, and where the power of an octave progression or the harshness of a fifth progression is very welcome.

The most notable example is the use of powerchords in rock, like this:

powerchords
00:0000:00

But also in jazz, although in a more subtle way, like in this progression of voicings based on minor chords enriched with the 9th and 13th, and where the two lowest voices are one perfect fifth apart:

jazz
00:0000:00
← Previous article in this series:
Drop voicings
Next article in this series:
Voicings and cadences →

Vous souhaitez réagir à cet 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 (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.

Website preferences

We store your preferences so that you do not have to re-enter them every time your come back (forums options, dark or light theme, classifieds filter, standard or buzz news, newsletters popups...).

Log in

This one makes sure you don't have to re-enter your credentials every time you visit Audiofanzine.

Analytics

This data allows us to 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 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.

Website preferences

We store your preferences so that you do not have to re-enter them every time your come back (forums options, dark or light theme, classifieds filter, standard or buzz news, newsletters popups...).

Log in

This one makes sure you don't have to re-enter your credentials every time you visit Audiofanzine.

Analytics

This data allows us to 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 :)


You can find more details on data protection in our privacy policy.