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Close Harmony Voice Motion

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Practicing Minor Triads & Inversions Series 1

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This is where things get interesting!

In this lesson I show how to incorporate all three chord voicings we've learned thus far: root position, first inversion and second inversion.

The guiding principle here is a technical music theory term known as close harmony.

Close harmony is a method of organizing chord voices to achieve the minimal possible motion while moving from chord to chord. So, rather than jump from chord to chord using the same shape, we learn to create more musical options by mixing chord shapes while we change chords.

We start in this exercise with an A minor in root position. The closest possible D minor chord is a second inversion chord that shares the note A on the E string. When two consecutive chords share a note it is called a common tone. The other two notes of the chord move very minimally. One note moves up a half-step and another moves up a whole-step. Pitchwise, from low to high, we get:

A to A - same pitch
C to D - up whole-step (2 frets)
E to F - up half-step (1 fret)

We move back to the A minor chord. Next we look for the closest possible E minor chord. This happens to be the first inversion shape E minor below the A major. The high note E is a common tone. The other two notes of the chord move very minimally. One note moves down a whole-step and another moves down a half-step. Pitchwise, from low to high, we get:

A to G - down whole-step (2 frets)
C to B - down half-step (1 fret)
E to E - same pitch

This is a very powerful musical technique that has incredibly wide ranging implications, applications and potential.

Remember we will also alter the E minor chord (v) to an E major chord (V) in order to get that leading tone modulation of the major 3rd of the V chord to the root of the I chord: G# to A! We'll do this on the last measure of every cycle before we start again.

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