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Writing a 4 part harmony can be very difficult if you don’t understand the basic principles behind voice leading and arrangement. There are countless rules one must follow to emulate the stylings of Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven. But these rules are not needed just to arrange a simple progression! This video goes through the fundamental concepts of harmony and arrangment without getting into the weeds of clefs, notation, and actual “rules”.
By the end of the lesson, you should be able to arrange any chord progression for other instruments, and hopefully get new insight into the sorts of complex harmonies that can exist within a chord progression.
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The arrangement I make in this video at the end violates several golden rules. For one, it includes parallel fifths (parallel motion that occurs a perfect fifth apart). As a teacher who lives in the year 2022, I don’t want you to burden yourself with these rules unless you’re trying to sound like music from the “common practice era”, or unless you’re trying to pass tests in music school (or if you’re just really curious).
On Parallel Motion: If both voices are moving together in the same interval class, it’s parallel. If one voice moves up a m3 while the other moves up a M3, those are both THIRDS. The motion is parallel. If one voice moves up a m3 while the other moves up a fourth, those are no longer the same interval class (thirds and fourths), and would not be called parallel motion, but instead would be called similar motion.
Professional arrangement and orchestration takes many more skills than just learning to voice lead. A real arranger/composer will keep in mind the range of the instrument and has to notate music in different clefs. Arrangers also take note of the tonal qualities of instruments and exploit their frequency spectrum to either blend well together or clash and sound juxtaposed.
So this lesson won’t turn you into a pro arranger – but it WILL get you writing your first 3 and 4 part harmonies and I think it’s a great start to composing more advanced harmony. I highly advise you combine this lesson with my last lesson on harmony, found here https://youtu.be/8lCf7q_VPHA
I also suggest you consider how many more options you will have when writing your voices if you are comfortable with your diatonic seventh chords, inversions, and secondary dominants.
Seventh Chords: https://youtu.be/3JizNRwHYNY
Inverted Chords: https://youtu.be/LFN-eKved_8
Secondary Dominants: https://youtu.be/py4HaueW50Q
If you know all this stuff, you’ll know exactly how I wrote this arrangement!
Also, I said at 17:50ish that there is only one way to play that E7 on guitar. But there is another….
01:51 Basic Concepts
06:15 Arranging in 3 voices
10:50 Why the V become V7
13:10 Arranging in 4 voices
16:20 Make It Into MUSIC!