This is an overview of the main components of voice leading; its relevance to uncovering root progression patterns in tonal music and its application to musical analysis. This appendix is intended to support the full musical analyses being added to the site. The intention is that this appendix will help the reader understand how voice leading and root progression patterns work together in tonal music and therefore help with the understanding of the full analyses. Please refer to Chapter 8: Example Analyses.

This is not intended to be a full description of voice leading or counterpoint of any period. For further reading, the reader is referred to the bibliography.

This appendix shows some of the historical changes that have taken place in voice leading, including two examples of important changes in 20th century music. This is because an analysis of music of any period needs to be carried out in a way that is sensitive to the stylistic use of chord syntax, voice leading syntax and root progression syntax relevant to the genre of music to be analysed. Whilst it is not the purpose of this appendix to cover all possible stylistic changes, particularly in 20th century music, the examples included are an illustration of how it is possible to accommodate music that goes beyond traditional voice leading patterns.

This overview is set out as a series of self contained topics, so that the reader can refer to each as required, or read all topics in sequence. However, it is important that you should read the first three sections first as these cover the key principles concerned.


16th Century Polyphony

Consonance and Dissonance

The Independence of the Voices

Arpeggiation and Passing Notes

Auxiliary Notes and Linear Progressions


Voice Leading Patterns Combined

Voice Leading and Melodic Embellishment

Developments after the 16th Century

The Appoggiatura

The Double Appoggiatura (Cadential 6 4 Chord)

The Emancipated Dominant 7th chord

Chromaticism - Background

The Chromatic Passing Note and Chromatic Passing Chord

The Chromatic Auxiliary note and Chromatic Auxiliary Chord

Chromatic Linear Progressions

The Chromatic Appoggiatura

Some 20th Century Developments

The Blues 7th

Parallel 7ths in Jazz



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