Checklist for four-part writing:

I. Chord construction issues.

        Check key signature, identify key, leading tone (7), and 7th of V7 (4).

        Is spacing between S and A, A and T ok? < 8ve for S/A, A/T in chorale style; < 8ve for all three upper voices in keyboard style. B/T up to two 8ves apart in chorale style.

        Is the range of each voice ok?

        Is the doubling ok?

a)     if the chord is incomplete, is the 5th the only thing missing? For incomplete triad: triple the root, leave out the 5th. For incomplete root-position 7th chord, double the root and leave out the 5th. Inverted 7th chords are always complete.

b)     be sure neither the LT nor the chord's 7th is doubled.

c)      in a diminished triad, double the third (the only element not involved in the dissonance). 5th is also possible.

        If chorale style is used, make sure that soprano and alto occupy treble staff and tenor and bass occupy bass staff; soprano and tenor stems go up, alto and bass stems go down.

        If keyboard style is used, make sure that the top three voices occupy the treble staff and the bass occupies the bass staff. Bass should follow normal stemming conventions, while top three voices have two options: stem them all together, with the stem following the direction of the majority of notes; or stem top voice up, lower two voices together and down.


II. Voice leading issues.

        Is the melodic behavior of each voice, particularly the soprano, appropriate and pleasing? Are leaps approached and left properly, recovered by step, or by as small an interval as possible?

        RLT(7)BS (resolve LT up by step) in S or B (soprano or bass).

        R7th(4)BS in any voice.

        Are there any illegal dissonant skips in any voice, such as any augmented skip?

        Check each pair of voices for forbidden parallel 1s, 5s, and 8s: SA, ST, SB, AT, AB, TB (6 pairs of voices to check!).

        Check for bad hidden 5ths and 8ves -- that is, between outer voices, with the soprano leaping. If soprano steps, or if the hidden 5th or 8ve involves an inner voice, don't worry about it.

        Check for voice crossing.

  Copyright © 2001 Irene Girton