GARRITAN INTERACTIVE
PRINCIPLES OF ORCHESTRATION
by Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov



Chapter III
HARMONY

Part 3 - Harmony in several parts


Lesson Notes: In this lesson we discuss harmony in the wood-wind instruments in several parts and duplication.

Professor Belkin Comments: By “duplication” Rimsky-Korsakov means doubling, mainly in octaves.






Harmony in several parts.


In writing chords of 5, 6, 7 and 8 part-harmony, whether they are independent, or constitute the harmonic basis, the' student should follow the principles outlined in the previous chapter, dealing with the progression of wood-wind instruments in octaves. As the 5th 6th, 7th and 8th notes are only duplications in octaves of lower notes of the real harmony (in 4 parts), instruments should be chosen which combine amongst themselves to give the best octaves. The process of crossing and enclosure of parts may also be used.

Professor Belkin Comments: Actually, the closer the spacing of the chords, the LESS important it is to use this “best octaves” principle, since the ear hears the whole as a unified mass, rather than the individual lines.

Another important point: RK does not discuss a third method of handling these “extra” parts, which is however very commonly found. I call this “pseudo-counterpoint”. The main parts are set up as usual, but the gaps between them are filled in more freely with the remaining woodwinds (in their normal registers, of course). These extra parts will this NOT be full and consistent doublings of the main lines, but rather will take a few notes here and there from various lines, aiming only at remaining fairly conjunct, filling in holes in the chords, and avoiding over-doubling of active tones.



A. Wood-wind in pairs (close distribution):



In widely-divided harmony chords in several parts are to be avoided as they will entail both close and extended writing:




Professor Belkin Comments: Once again, if the goal is to write HOMOGENEOUS woodwind chords, for use as harmonic background, close, tightly packed spacing is always best. The wider the spacing between adjacent notes becomes, the more one notices the individual timbres. While there are some interesting “special effect” colors available in this way, BLEND will never be the result.

A word must be added here about the bassoons. The bassoons have 2 quite distinct roles in woodwind harmony, and the orchestrator needs to be clear which one he intends. The bassoons’ normal role, as their very name suggests, is to play the bass line. As such, they are often doubled at the unison or the octave, and may be placed a little farther away from the other, higher, woodwind parts. However if the bass line is more than an octave or so away from the upper parts, on average, the gap in the middle is best at least partially filled in, often with horns.
If on the other hand, the bassoons do NOT play the bass line, they can be treated as simply extra voices for woodwind harmony in the middle register.

Note.
In the majority of cases this distribution is employed when the two upper harmonic parts have a special melodic duty to perform — this question is discussed above.

Professor Belkin Comments: What RK means here is that these upper parts are intended as a SEPARATE, NON-blending plane of tone.

B. Wood-wind in three's:


Overlaying of parts is the most satisfactory method in dealing with close three-part harmony. Crossing of parts is not so favourable, as octaves will be produced contrary to the natural order of register:

Duplication of timbres.

A. If the wood-wind is' in pairs it is a good plan to mix the doubled timbres as much as possible:



In chords of four-part harmony the classical method may be adopted:

In this case, though the high C in the flute is fairly powerful, the resonance of the G and E in the oboes is softened by the duplication of the 2nd flute and 1st clarinet, while the C in the 2nd clarinets (not doubted) is feeble in comparison with the other notes. In any case the two extreme parts are the thinnest and weakest in tone, the intermediate parts the fullest and strongest.

B.
Wood-wind in three's admit of perfectly balanced mixed timbres in chords of three-part harmony:

These timbres may even originate from three-fold duplication:


Remarks.

1. Modern orchestrators do not allow any void in the inter-mediate parts in writing close harmony; it was permitted to some extent by the classics:
These empty spaces create a bad effect especially in forte passages. For this reason widely-divided harmony, which is fundamentally based on the extension of intervals, can be used but seldom and only in piano passages. Close writing is the more frequent form in all harmony devoted to the wood-wind, forte or piano.
Professor Belkin Comments: This is an important point: certain somewhat more open spacings can sometimes be effective in softer dynamics; in forte passages, they always sound thin and unsatisfactory.

2. As a general rule a chord of greatly extended range and in several parts is distributed according to the order of the natural scale, with wide intervals (octaves and sixths), in the bass part, lesser intervals (fifths and fourths) in the middle, and close intervals (3rds or 2nds) in the upper register:
Professor Belkin Comments: This basic acoustical rule applies to harmony in ANY family of the orchestra.


3. In many cases correct progression of parts demands that one of them should be temporarily doubled. In such cases the ear is reconciled to the brief overthrow of balance for the sake of a single part, and is thankful for the logical accuracy of the progression. The following example will illustrate my meaning:



In the second bar of this example the D is doubled in unison on account of the proximity of the three upper parts to their corresponding parts an octave lower. In the fourth bar the F is doubled in unison in both groups.

4. The formation of the harmonic basis, which is essentially in four parts, does not by any means devolve upon the wood-wind alone. One of the parts is often devoted to the strings, arco or pizz. More frequently the bass part is treated separately, the chords of greater value in the three upper parts being allotted to the wood-wind. Then, if the upper part is assigned to a group of strings, there remains nothing for the wind except the sustained harmony in the two middle parts. In the first case the three-part harmony in the wood-wind should form an independent whole, receiving no assistance from the bass; in this manner intervals of open fourths and fifths will be obviated. In the second case it is desirable to provide the intermediate parts with a moderately full tone, choosing no other intervals except seconds, sevenths, thirds or sixths.

Professor Belkin Comments: The principles RK sets forth here is fundamental: Each tonal family must be complete in itself. With only rare exceptions, a note in one family can NOT fill out an empty chord in another; it will not be heard as being “on the same plane”.


All that has been said with regard to the use of wood-wind in the formation of harmony, and the division of simple and mixed timbres applies with equal force to sustained chords, or harmonic progressions interchanging rapidly with staccato chords. In short chords, separated by rests of some importance, the arrangement and division of timbres is not so perceptible to the ear, and pro~gression of parts attracts less attention. It would be useless, nay, impossible to examine the countless combinations of tone colour, all the varieties of duplication and distribution of chords. It has been my aim to denote the fundamental principles upon which to work, and to indicate the general rules to be followed. Once having mastered these, if the student devote a little time to the study of full scores, and listen to them on the orchestra, he will soon learn when certain methods should be used and when to adopt others. The pupil is advised, generally, to write for wood-wind in its normal order of distribution, to take heed that each particular chord is composed entirely either of duplicated or non-dupli~cated parts, (except in certain cases resulting from progression), to use the methods of crossing and enclosure of timbres with full knowledge of what he is doing, and finally to concentrate his attention on close part-writing.


Examples of Wood-wind Harmony:

a) Independent chords.

No. 105. The Christmas Night, Section 148 - Clarinet, 2 Bassoons

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No. 106. The Christmas Night, Beginning - Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon (crossing of parts)

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Other References:
• Snegourotchka, Section 16 - 2 clarinet, Bassoon.
• Snegourotchka, 5th bar- 2 Oboes, 2 Bassoons (cf. Ex. 136).



No. 107. Snegourotchka, Section 197 - Piccolo, 2 Flutes (tremolando)

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No. 108. Snegourotchka, Section 204 - 2 Flutes, 2 Oboe (high register)

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No. 109. Sheherazade, beginning - Total wood-wind in different distribution

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Other References:
• Russian Easter Fete, Section A - 3 Flutes (cf. Ex. 271).
• Tsar Saltan, Section 45 - Oboe, 2 Bassoons.




No. 110. Tsar Saltan, before Section 115 - mixed timbres

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No. 111. Tsar Saltan, Section 115, and other similar passages - very sweet effect of wood-wind in three's.

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Other References:
• Tsar Saltan, Section 177 - 2 Oboe, 2 Bassoons.
• Sadko,Symphonic Tableau Section 9 - 2 Oboe, 2 Clarinets, Bassoon.
• Sadko, Opera Section 4 - English horn,, 2 Clarinets.
• Sadko, Opera, before Section 5 - Total wood-wind.




No. 112. Sadko, Section 72 - Chords in three-part harmony; simple and mixed timbres.

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No. 113. The Tsar's Bride, Section 126 - Full Wind

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No. 114. The Legend of Kitesh, before Section 90 - Enclosure of parts (Oboe 1 in high register).

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No. 115. The Legend of Kitesh, before Section 161 - Wind and Brass alternately.

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No. 116. The Legend of Kitesh, Section 167 - Full wind except oboe.

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Other References:
• Legend of Kitesh, Section 269 - Flute, Clarinet, Bassoon.
• The Golden Cockeral , Section 125 - Various wind instruments, 4 part harmony (cf. ex. 271)..
• The Golden Cockeral , Section 218 - Oboe, English horn, bassoon, contrabassoon; cf. also Section 254.




No. 117. The Golden Cockeral, before Section 236
- Mixed timbre; 2 bassoons form the bass.

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b) Harmonic basis (sometimes joined by the horns).



Other References:
• The May Night, Act III, Section L - 2 Fag., Eng. horn (cf. Ex. 18).
• Antar, Section 68 — 3 Flutes
• Snegourotchka, Section 20— 2 CIarinets, high register.
• Snegourotchka, before Section 50 — 2 Flutes, Bassoon.
• Snegourotchka, Section 187 — 2 Oboe, 2 Basoons.
• Snegourotchka, Section 274 — 2 CIarinets, low register (cf. Ex. 9)
• Snegourotchka, Section 283 — Flute, English horn, Clarinet, Bassoon (cf. Ex. 26)



No. 118. Snegourotchka, Section 292 - Widely-divided harmony and doubling of parts in the wind.


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No. 119. Snegourotchka, Section 318-319 - 2 Flutes

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Other References:
• Sheherazade, 2nd movement, Section B— 2 Clarinets, Bassoon (sustained note in the horn) (cf. Ex. 1)..
• The Christmas Night, Section 1 — 3 Carinets
• Sadko, Section 1— CIarinet, Bass clarinet, Bassoon, Contrabassoon.




No. 120. Sadko, Section 49
- Oboe, Clarinet, Horn, Bassoon


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Other References:
• Sadko, Section 99 - 2 Clarinets (cf. Ex. 289, 290)



No. 121. Sadko, Section 144 -Clarinet, Bassoon

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No. 122. Sadko, Section 195-196 - 2 Clarinets, Bass clarinet.

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Other References:
• The Tsar's Bride, Section 80 - Clarinet, Bassoon
• The Tsar's Bride, Section 166 - harmonic parts in motion, Flute and Clarinet (cf. Ex.22).
• Servilla, Section 59- Clarine (low register), Bassoon.




No. 123. Kashtchei the Immortal, Section 80
- Oboe, Bassoon (muted).


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No. 124. Legend of Kitesh, Section 52 - Flute, Bassoon.

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Other References:
• Legend of Kitesh, Section 55 - Flute, Oboe (cf. Ex. 197).
• Legend of Kitesh, Section 68 - English horn, Bassoon, Contrabassoon (cf. Ex. 199).
• Legend of Kitesh, Section 118 - mixed timbre: 2 Oboes, English horn and 3 Clarinets.
• Legend of Kitesh, Section 136 - harmonic parts in motion:
• Legend of Kitesh, before Section 185 - 3 Flutes (low register) and 2 Clarinets.
• Legend of Kitesh, Section 223 - Flute, Oboe, Clarinet (cf. Ex. 37).



No. 125. Legend of Kitesh, Section 247 - 2 Clarinets, Bass clarinet.

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Other References:
• Legend of Kitesh, Section 273 - English horn, 2 Clarinets and Bass clarinet, Bassoon.




No. 126. Legend of Kitesh, Section 355 - English horn. muted, Clarinet, 3 Bassoons.

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No. 127. The Golden Cockerel, Section 3 - Clarinet, Bass clarinet, Bassoon, Contrabassoon.

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Other References:
• The Golden Cockerel, Section 441 - Bass clarinet, Bassoon; Flute, Clarinet; Clarinet, Bass clarinet.




No. 128. The Golden Cockerel, Section 156 - harmonic parts in motion: Flute and Clarinet.

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Next Lesson: Lesson 15 - HARMONY - Brass Harmony