1.4 Expanding the tonic triad with upper neighbors

Illustration 1. Soprano scale degrees 1, 2, 1 at the end of a hymn.
Illustration 2. Scale degree 2 as upper neighbor

Illustration 1 is the last phrase of a hymn in Hymnal for Colleges and Schools, which ends with scale degrees 1, 2, 1 in the soprano accompanied by I V I in the lower voices. During these last three chords inner voices move up and down by third. When the fundamental harmonic progression has scale degrees 1, 2, 1 in the soprano, the embellishing tone, 2, is called an upper neighbor, labeled "UN" in Illustration 2.

Listen to upper neighbors (in different harmonic contexts) in “Silent Night” by Franz Gruber and performed by Sally Fletcher...

  • Voice Leading
    When the fundamental harmonic progression has an upper neighbor in the soprano, EITHER…
    • move inner voices by third in similar motion to the soprano (Ex. 1 to the right) ... OR ...
    • move inner voices by third except for the leading tone in the second chord which rises to tonic (Ex. 2). In this case the final chord has three roots, a third, and a missing fifth.
    • Avoid Common Tone Stepwise (CTS) voice leading between I and V because CTS results in a missing third in the V chord (Ex. 3). Play the examples. While the missing fifth at the end of Ex. 2 is hardly noticed, the missing third in the middle of Ex. 3 makes the triad sound stark and bare.

Your turn. Write I V I progressions with upper neighbors, as in Examples 1 and 2 above.
  1. DOWNLOAD pdf file 01.4 to print and write on.
  2. ENTER your part writing on the Harmonic Expansions 1.4 page in Noteflight.

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