To understand basic voice leading

Hi everyone,

Topic : Voice Leading

How I want to Start
I am trying to go easy on myself until I nail this concept it down then go on to 3 note 4 note etc…
So I would start in the key if C
and just do 2 note voicing

My Goal
Is to learn how to take any two note voicing of part of a chord or melody and voice Lead each one after another as smooth as possible
So when I play on keyboard or guitar I understand what is going on

I hope this make sense if I will try to explain again


Voice leading is super important, and to me the foundation of harmony and chord progressions. The general rule is to keep voice leading smooth, but that is because you want harmony to be backing the melody, while the melody can be a bit more “crazy” in leaps. Smoother transitions are less in focus to our ears, and flow more together. But, every rule in music can be broken. For action and intensity music I often use chaotic voice leading, with big jumps, just as an example.

I do want to share this blgo post about fundamental voice leading with you however:

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Buy a book on Amazon with exercises in voice leading. It is super important and requires a knowledge of chords and their inversions.

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Hi Julia,
Thanks :grinning:

I do agree and yes You Are Right to use chords and inversion as a tool to rearrange the notes to create voice leading
since I mostly play guitar :guitar:
there donot seems to be much on voice leading for guitar but I found this one
It’s a older book with CD
have You heard of this one
and Mike have You herd of this one as well?

John Thomas
Voice Leading for Guitar Moving Through the Changes (BK/CD) 2002

No, I haven’t heard about this one but I bought one for$44 with exercises and answers which helps a lot, not for the guitar, but for four voice leading

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Hi Julia,
Do You have the full name of the book and who it’s by that would be very useful

Thank You in advance

Thanks Mike,
I seem to have gone to Julia’s post first and did not see Yours Opps my bad😬

I will check this out right now
Thanks in advance

The book is Harmonic materials in tonal music by Greg Steinke. Part 1. Though I studied harmony using a very old Russian textbook with exercises and explanations. I am Russian by nationality. Russian professors wrote a very good one and it is a bit different. For instance jumps in soprano or bass may be harmonised too. It is not only about smooth movement of voices but jumps too. The basic thing is to use inversions of triads, because there is a huge difference between the root note and the first inversion if Tonic, Subdominant and Dominant. I use notation software to write down exercises and then I listen to them, which is very helpful, as I hear parallel 5ths or 8ths. It also helps to develop your ability to hear all these chords and inversions. The beautiful harmonization is always a beautiful bass line

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Also the main thing is to avoid the movement of any voice at augmented 2 or augmented 4th.

Hi Mike ,
On that “blgo post about fundamental voice leading ” by Adrian Earnshaw
Thank You Adrian for creating that article
Loved it

I went to Adrian YouTube channel
type in the search for Voice Leading and He did a short video on Voice Leading
Here it is Sir

Voice Leading

Thank You Julia for taking time and sharing Your Experience with Voice Lead And this I look into it
And Yes jumps are good to learn as well
I am sure they have their place
I just trying to learn the basic rules
and forgive me but then Break them😉

It is a lot of work, I am basically done with chords and inversions and I am into modulation right now. But I still have a half of the boom to study. It is hard

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Is Voice Leading mean the same thing as when some says what is that voicing for a chord ?

Voicing is simply the chord voice distribution, voice leading is about how the voices connect over time, the progression of the voices. :slight_smile:


I read some of the post to your question. Therefore I hope I do not repeat things you already get an answer. But you can bear my answers.

As a guitar player who strums chord after chord to accompany a song, it is with the common chords a little bit difficult to make chord changes regard to voice leading. Better I say it the other round: You have not to note that you can change chords regard to the voice leading. In every day life you take your guitar and grip some chords. That´s it!
I think it depends on the style you want to play on the guitar.
If you like to play a song in the fingerstyle genre then it is important to have attention to the voice leading. Your book is about that with a lot of jazz harmony: Fingerstyle Jazz like Joe Pass.
If you want to change chords regard to voice leading you have to look to each note in the chord and how you get to the next chord. One of the main rules of voice leading is to go stepwise forward. Leaps are o.k. and you can not always avoid them but be careful with them.

A better way to learn voice leading is to write music in four part writing. I think this is the standard way of doing it. But then you need an other book. The main issue is called contrapunct. If you play a choral of J.S. Bach you will discover how Bach moves forward in every part of the choral. This is voice Leading.

Voice leading depends on which genre you would write or depends on different crucial decision about the aesthetic of voice leading. In classical field it is a question which rules you emphasis. Because voice leading rules have a history. Some rules are very old and are still in use for a compostion. Some other rules are old fashion. Modern classical composition do not regard none of the old rules.

Voicing of a chord: This is a quiet differnt theme.
A voicing of a chord is just the structure of a chord. it means the order of tones in one chord.

I hope I can help you a bit.