Part Writing Tonic and Dominant

Beyond our basic three movements, we have other ways to write the progression IVI (iVi). In all the following examples, the B sings the roots in all three chords: Do-Sol-Do. [I hope to add some musical examples soon.]

Lower Neighbor Motion

If we want Do-Ti-Do in the S, we can follow the basic root movement by 5th guidelines: keep the common tone and move the other two voices by step. This is example 2.2a on p. 132.

  • Bass: Do-Sol-Do
  • Soprano: Do-Ti-Do
  • Mi-Re-Mi (Me-Re-Me)
  • Sol-Sol-Sol

Upper Neighbor Motion

If instead, we want Do-Re-Do in the S, we have to modify our melodic choices in the inner parts. To do the best options available, we cannot keep our common tone. We have two choices here:

  1. Resolve the leading tone (Ti-Do) and have an incomplete final I or
  2. Frustrate the leading tone (Ti-Sol) to have a complete final I.

Option 1 (Ti-Do in inside voice) is example 2.2b on p. 132.

  • Bass: Do-Sol-Do
  • Soprano: Do-Re-Do
  • Mi-Sol-Mi (Me-Sol-Me)
  • Sol-Ti-Do
  • Notice there is no Sol in the final chord.

Option 2 (Ti-Sol in inside voice, frustrated LT) is example 2.2e on p. 132.

  • Bass: Do-Sol-Do
  • Soprano: Do-Re-Do
  • Mi-Sol-Mi (Me-Sol-Me)
  • Sol-Ti-Sol

Passing Progression

We can also choose the melodic descent Mi-Re-Do (Me-Re-Do) in the S. This will also result in an incomplete final I, omitting the fifth (Sol). This is example 2.2c on p. 132.

  • Bass: Do-Sol-Do
  • Soprano: Mi-Re-Do (Me-Re-Do)
  • Do-Ti-Do
  • Sol-Sol-Mi (Sol-Sol-Me)
  • Notice we keep the common tone Sol the first time, but move it down to Mi (Me) for the final chord.

Incomplete Neighbor Motion

A final way discussed by the book is a lovely descending melodic leap followed by a step in the opposite direction: Mi-Ti-Do. In minor, this leap is a °4, and requires resolution in the opposite direction, as this gesture does: Me-Ti-Do. This is example 2.2d on p. 132.

  • Bass: Do-Sol-Do
  • Soprano: Mi-Ti-Do (Me-Ti-Do)
  • Do-Re-Mi (Do-Re-Me)
  • Sol-Sol-Sol
  • Notice we get to keep the common tone Sol throughout, and the other inside voice sings ascending steps (Do-Re-Mi or Do-Re-Me).


Make sure your practice all five of these options in multiple keys in both major and minor. Follow these precise solfege patterns to avoid part writing problems. I cannot emphasize enough how good solid consistent practice of these progressions will help you in the future in theory classes.

Part Writing Video