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Best place to learn about chord voicings?


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Hey everyone, hope your all doing well.

I want to go more in depth with chord voicing. I know about inversions and I use them to make help chord changes more fluid and avoid too much parallel harmony, but that's all I use them for. Are there other reasons one would choose a certain chord voicing? Is the middle not that important and it's all about the top and bottom notes?

I would like to have a greater understanding and was wondering if anyone can recommend a book or something that goes into great detail and the subject? So far I have just been making it so each line moves as little as possible to the next note, without really understanding how the voicing can have an effect on the sound.

Thanks for your time

EDIT: I have just read this topic:


Some good advice from Wayne-Scales

Still would like some more information on it though

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Someone might come along and tell you that the inner parts are just as important as the outer parts, to make themselves look smarter than you; but it's just a case of the outer voices very often being more prominent than the inner ones. The bottom part is more important in the sense that it forms the basis of the chord, and the top part is more important because it's often most prominent melodic line; but the inner voices are more important considering that they knit the texture together (sing/play some notes to fill the gap between the soprano and bass). Then again, a middle voice can be more important than an outer one depending on how its used: in this piece, the soprano line is the most prominent at the beginning; but, after the first four bars, you'll hear the lower parts come to the fore for their little bit of input; then, in the ninth bar, the highest sounding voices becomes the least important of the lot, before re-entering.

Essentially, the most important voice is the highest and/or lowest with the most divided rhythm, because it's the most obvious, so it should be as melodious as possible ; i.e., the soprano and bass will be the most obvious when all voices have the same note values, but once our friend the tenor goes off for a bit of the bant, we start listening to what he's up to, until the alto or soprano breaks in and starts begging for attention.

The best way to learn about it is probably just revoicing a single chord progression to see the difference. You can always misunderstand the theory from books, but you can't misunderstand that you think something sounds good.

Usually, when you're doing a standard Bach chorale or something, there isn't too much in the way of choice in terms of voicing. If you want to keep less than an 8ve between all the upper parts and follow all those other rules then there are usually only a few interchangeable choices. Obviously, some are preferable to others: moving from a 5/3 G major to a 6/4 C, you could let the voices with B and D both move to C, leaving out the third, or have the other voice jump down and take the third, but why would you want to? If it comes time, however, to decide whether you really want the fifth of a chord to be there or not, it's helpful to just look at where you are: Bach wants as many full chords as he can get his hands on at a cadence, but I imagine he'd prefer the most melodious solution mid-phrase - if either sounds as good as the other (i.e., moving the voice to double the root - leaving out the fifth - or letting it move to the fifth), then you can pick whatever, but why would you not pick having the fifth in there, if you can? It's like throwing away the second chocolate bar in a buy-one-get-one-free deal: why the hell would you throw it away (unless you really just want one - it might seem odd to the outside observer, but it's your damn chocolate) when it's free?

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I honestly just choose voicing based on practical consideratioins; i.e., voice leading (smoothness of lines; e.g., I - V7 6/4 - I 6), cadences (I 6/4 - V7), or using inversions to weaken the sound of a particular cadence so it doesn't sound so final (V7 4/2 - I 6). If you want some info on the different characters of voicings, you'll have to wait for someone more educated who doesn't just make scraggy up to answer.

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