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Root, Soprano, Bass notes in chords?

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Root, Soprano, Bass notes in chords? Empty Root, Soprano, Bass notes in chords?

Post by axxe Wed Apr 21, 2010 9:56 pm

Im reading about doubling of notes in chords and I keep hearing about soprano, bass, tenor.... Like double the soprano note

So what notes do they represent in a triad?

I assume that in a C maj triad, the C is the bass and I think maybe soprano is G (the highest note)?

And if you invert the chord..say first inversion: E-G-C. Is E now known as the bass?

A bit confused. Could not find an answer anywhere..Would be glad if anybody could help

Thanks alot!!!

axxe
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Post by eclair Thu May 06, 2010 4:12 am

Lots of people often confuse the root of the chord with the bass of a chord. They are not always the same thing, but they MAY be the same thing.
The soprano is the highest, the alto the next highest, the tenor the one below that, and the bass is the LOWEST voice of all.
Soprano
Alto
Tenor
Bass
The ROOT of the chord is the note that is (when you write out the note names on paper) on the LEFT when you stack the thirds of the triad like this:
C E G ("C" is the root)
The note "C" is still the root of the chord no matter HOW the chord is inverted.
We name a chord by its root. ROOT = NAME.
IF,
A note OTHER than the ROOT of the triad (other than "C" in our example) is in the bass, then we call this an "inversion", but the name of the chord is STILL some kind of a "C" chord.
We double the roots of primary chords like I, IV, or V chords. If we are in key of C Major, then the C chord is a I chord. We double the root for a 4 voice harmony.....SO
Soprano might have C
Alto the E under that
Tenor the G under those guys...annnnnnnnnd....
Bass will have the C

If the "C" is the lowest in our (above) example, then it is BOTH the ROOT and the bass of the chord.

For other chords in a major key, we may double notes OTHER than the root, same for minor modes. For instance, ii, iii, vi, and vii chords may double the third of the chord . The only real nasty thing is Evil or Very Mad never, ever ever, Evil or Very Mad double the root of the vii chord!!!!!
( for example; BDFB in the key of C is BAD!!=DO NOT DO THIS THING)

As far as doubling the soprano is concerned, there is no hard fast rule about this. Usually, we double the root of I, IV and V, the third for ii,iii, vi and vii chords. That's about it. Any of the top three voices could have any of the triad notes, no specific order.

If for some reason you can't double the root, then double something else,
( as long as it is NOT scale degree 7) Period.

If you have to leave out a note, leave out the fifth of the chord. It mainly adds richness, but doesn't tell if a chord is major or minor, so its ok to leave out this note.
"And if you invert the chord..say first inversion: E-G-C. Is E now known as the bass?"
Your inversion question:
Answer: YES! If the E is the LOWEST note played, then it is the BASS of a "C" major triad. But, and here is the caveat, it is still a "C" chord, not an "E" chord. It is called a CM6 or a C/E depending on who is doin' the calling.
I hope this helps.

eclair
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Post by axxe Thu May 06, 2010 10:45 pm

Thanks for the reply!

Never double leading tone: I know about this rule..But I feel like, If I play a Cmaj chord with the right hand, I double the C with the left hand most of the time to create some more fullness, right? And I do the same with dim chords. I mean it only adds to the dim chord played in the right hand.. The B in Bdim, is the root, so I feel that its kind of weird not to double it as it sounds pretty natural.

I also like to double the leading tone when playing the V6 to create a chromatic tension towards the tonic...So I dont really understand the rule..But its from common practice though, so the rule may not have the same significance in other periods..

And about the 1st inversion of C:

Wouldnt E be the tenor If I doubled C with my left hand...?

If I only played a triad (3-part-harmony); E-G-C...E would obviously be the bass...But If I doubled C, C would be the bass, no?

axxe
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