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Close and open harmony

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\override Score.TimeSignature
#'stencil = ##f
\override Score.SpacingSpanner.strict-note-spacing = ##t
\set Score.proportionalNotationDuration = #(ly:make-moment 1/4)
\time 4/4 
\relative c' { 
      <c e g>1 <c g' e' g>
C-major triad in close and open harmony

A chord is in close harmony (also called close position or close structure[1]) if its notes are arranged within a narrow range, usually with no more than an octave between the top and bottom notes. In contrast, a chord is in open harmony (also called open position or open structure[1]) if there is more than an octave between the top and bottom notes. The more general term spacing describes how far apart the notes in a chord are voiced. A triad in close harmony has compact spacing, while one in open harmony has wider spacing.

Close harmony or voicing can refer to both instrumental and vocal arrangements. It can follow the standard voice-leading rules of classical harmony, as in string quartets or Bach chorales, or proceed in parallel motion with the melody in thirds or sixths.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • ✪ Close and Open Position Chords - Harmony I, 07
  • ✪ Learn To SING CLOSE HARMONY | Advanced Harmony Training SKY 1 SING ULTIMATE A CAPPELLA
  • ✪ The Trick To Writing Harmony Lines


[music] As you may have guessed, there is an ongoing relationship between numbers – figures – and musical science. In our four-part writing, we have focused on the Primary Triads of the first, fourth, and fifth degrees of the scale: the tonic, subdominant, and dominant. We marked the bass notes with Roman Numerals, and for now, the bass notes are the roots of the chords. [mus] Notice how the key is labeled beneath the start of the section. Just so you know, we’ve borrowed a few musical examples from Salomon Jadassohn’s Manual of Harmony, and other books. Jadassohn was a well-respected composer-professor in the late 19th century, who wrote several music theory textbooks presenting essentially the same concepts as those taught in university courses today. Furthermore, his books are in the Public Domain and legally available, often downloadable for free. Publication information is listed in the description box. Over just the first bass note of each section, we now add a few Arabic figures, 3 and 5, to indicate whether the top voice starts with the third, or the fifth of the opening triad. [mus] On the other hand, ... When the soprano doubles the bass at the octave or double octave, the Arabic figure “8” can be added above the first bass note, if necessary. [mus] When working out the early exercises of this program, your writing workflow should include the following: Clef, key signature, and meter or time signature, with Roman numerals below the bass, and Arabic figures just above. Be sure to also label the key, as shown. [mus] In some exercises, you will be given only the bass line and key signature; [mus] you, the student, will have to figure out the correct notes for the three upper parts … and write in the upper voices, according to the given bass, key, numerals and figures, like this. [mus] In the current example, the three upper voices are close together, never more than an octave separating the Soprano from the Tenor. We call this close position. [mus] In close position, the upper voices are easy to play on the piano keyboard, fitting comfortably under the fingers of the right hand. [mus] When the Soprano, Alto, and Tenor spread beyond an octave, we call that open position. [mus] Here is an open position chord, as voiced on the piano keyboard. Notice how the Tenor part is now played with the left hand, along with the bass, while the right hand plays the Soprano and Alto notes. [mus] To close an open position chord, either transpose the Soprano note down an octave, inserting it between the Alto and Tenor (thus, that tone becomes the Alto) ... [mus] Hear the difference? [mus] Or, transpose the Tenor note up an octave, lodging it between the Soprano and Alto, making that pitch the Alto of the close voicing. [mus] Compare the sound of the open and close position of the same chord. [mus] Opening a close position chord is simply a matter of transposing the Alto note up or down an octave – staying within the proper voice range – effectively making that note the Soprano or Tenor of the open position chord. Compare the sound of the two chord positions. [mus] Here again, the Alto is transposed up or down an octave, to the soprano or tenor part. Compare the sound of these open and close position chords as they are played on the piano. [mus] Knowing the open and close positions of chords will help you implement the various Rules regarding voice ranges, doubling, common tones, parallel motion, and leaps between chords, discussed in previous talks. According to the independent voice leading technique we are learning, the principles of proper four-part writing must be observed, whether writing in close or open position. That’s all for now. Subscribe to the channel for updates, and encourage others to do the same. Keep reviewing the Channel Playlists, practicing, and listening. Your attention was most welcome! [music] [philosophy] [music credit]


Vocal music

#(set-global-staff-size 15)
      \new PianoStaff <<
        \new Staff <<
            \relative c' {
                \clef treble \key c \major \time 4/4
                c8 c d e c e d4 c8 c d e c4 b c8 c d e f e d c b g a b c4 c
        \new Staff <<
           \set Score.tempoHideNote = ##t \tempo 4 = 120
           \clef bass \key c \major \time 4/4
           \new Voice \relative c {
                <c e g>2 <c e g>4 <b d g>4 <c e g>2 <c e g>4 <d g> <c e g>2 <c f a> <d f g> <c e g>4 <c e g>
    >> }
The beginning of "Yankee Doodle"[2] with accompaniment in close harmony

        \new Staff <<
            \set Staff.midiInstrument = #"voice oohs"
            \relative c'' {
                \clef treble \key c \major \time 4/4
                   g2. g4 e2 e g2. g4 e2 c
                \addlyrics { Tie -- fe Stil -- le herrscht im Was -- ser }
      \new PianoStaff <<
        \set PianoStaff.connectArpeggios = ##t
        \new Staff <<
           \clef treble \key c \major \time 4/4
           \new Voice \relative c' {
                <c e>1\pp\arpeggio
                <c e>\arpeggio
                <d f>\arpeggio
                <c e>\arpeggio
        \new Staff <<
           \clef bass \key c \major \time 4/4
           \new Voice \relative c, {
                <c c' g'>1\arpeggio 
                <c c' g'>\arpeggio 
                <b b' g'>\arpeggio 
                <c c' g'>\arpeggio 
    >>  >> }
The beginning of Schubert's "Meeresstille," D. 216 is an example of accompaniment in open harmony, spaced according to the overtone series[3]

Origins of this style of singing are found in harmonies of the 1800s in America.

Early radio quartets continued this tradition. Female harmonists, like The Boswell Sisters ("Mood Indigo", 1933) and The Hamilton Sisters and Fordyce ("Who? You That's Who!", 1927), who then became Three X Sisters, performed and recorded this style in the 1920s, and continued it on commercial radio of the 1930s. Close harmony singing was especially popular in the 1940s with pop and R&B groups using the technique quite frequently. The Andrews Sisters also capitalized on a similar style with swing music.

Many gospel and soul groups in the 1950s and 60s also used this technique, usually 3- or 4-part SSAA or TTBB harmony with one person (either bass or lead) doing a call-and-response type lead. Examples of this are The Blind Boys of Alabama,[citation needed] a group that is still recording today. The folk-rock duo Simon & Garfunkel used close harmony, echoing their chosen role-models, The Everly Brothers.[4] The Louvin Brothers were a duo that used close harmony in the genre of country music.[5]

Barbershop harmony has a unique TTBB structure: the melody is in the 2nd tenor or "lead" voice, while the 1st tenor takes the next part up, usually in 3rds, with the baritone and bass voices supporting. The bass line tends to be more rhythmic and covers the root notes of the harmonic progression, providing more "support" and independence than in classical vocal music, since Barbershop is usually sung a cappella. Barbershop can be sung by males (TTBB) or females (SSAA). Public domain pieces, such as "Sweet Adeline", and newer pieces are abundant. National organizations promote the music with local chapters in many communities.

Soul and gospel groups flourished in America in the years after World War II, building on the foundation of blues, 1930s gospel songs and big band music. Originally called "race music" by white mainstream radio and its target market, it was the precursors to rock and roll and rhythm and blues of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, influencing many English and American artists of that era. As noted above, they often used the more traditional TTBB or SSAA 4-part structure, but with heavy use of solos and call-and-response, which is rooted in the African American church. These groups sometimes sang a cappella but also used more instrumental backing, especially when recorded by the bigger labels. Pop music and doo-wop can be seen as a commercialization of this genre.[citation needed]

Instrumental music

Impressionist composers like Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel often used close harmony in their works and other intervals, such as 7ths, 9ths, and 11ths may be used since the chords have four or more notes and the harmonies are more complex.[citation needed] In jazz, this influence flowered in the works of George Gershwin and Duke Ellington.[6]

A well-known example of consistent instrumental close harmony is Glenn Miller's "Moonlight Serenade" which uses the full range of single-reed wind instruments (soprano clarinet, alto, tenor, and baritone saxophones) to make a distinctive sound by harmonizing the different sections all within a single octave.[citation needed] Miller studied the Schillinger technique with Joseph Schillinger,[7] who is credited with helping Miller create the "Miller sound", and under whose tutelage he himself composed what became his signature theme, "Moonlight Serenade".[8]

Block harmony

In organ performance, block harmony means that close position chords are added below the melody in the right hand, and the left hand doubles the melody an octave lower, while in open harmony the middle note of the chord is played an octave lower creating a "open" space in the chord.[9]

See also


  1. ^ a b Kostka, Stefan; Payne, Dorothy (2004). Tonal Harmony (5th ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill. p. 74. ISBN 0072852607. OCLC 51613969.
  2. ^ Porter, Steven (1987). Harmonization of the Chorale, p.9. ISBN 0-935016-80-5.
  3. ^ Jonas, Oswald (1982). Introduction to the Theory of Heinrich Schenker (1934: Das Wesen des musikalischen Kunstwerks: Eine Einführung in Die Lehre Heinrich Schenkers), p.18. Trans. John Rothgeb. ISBN 0-582-28227-6.
  4. ^ Simon, Paul (April 20, 2011). "100 Greatest Artists: 33. The Everly Brothers". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
  5. ^ Friskics-Warren, Bill (2011-01-26). "Charlie Louvin, Country Singer, Dies at 83". Retrieved 2017-02-15.
  6. ^ Hasse, John Edward (1995), Beyond Category: The Life and Genius of Duke Ellington, New York: Da Capo, ISBN 0-306-80614-2
  7. ^ "Joseph Schillinger, the forgotten Guru Archived May 4, 2006, at the Wayback Machine", The Schillinger School of Music.
  8. ^ "Who Is Joseph Schillinger?", The Schillinger System.
  9. ^ Shanaphy, Edward and Knowlton, Joseph (1990). The Do It Yourself Handbook for Keyboard Playing, p.220. ISBN 0-943748-00-3.
This page was last edited on 2 March 2019, at 03:17
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