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Grading Notations for Part-Writing Assignments

Robert Kelley

All part-writing problems will result in loss of points (on graded assignments and tests) according to
the classification of errors listed below except for "weak doubling." (However, weak doubling can
often lead to a number of more egregious problems.) The error classes are arranged so that the least
problematic digressions from standard partwriting are in class 4, and the errors that most disturb the
style of the music are in class 1.

Symbol Meaning Definition

Hidden A leap in the same direction by outer voices to the interval of a perfect fifth
(Direct) fifths is present and marked with lines.
A leap in the same direction by outer voices to the interval of a perfect
H8 (Direct)
octave is present and marked with lines.
D A pitch that should never be doubled is doubled, e.g. a leading tone.
d A more preferable doubling exists.
INC A vital pitch is missing from a chord, e.g. the third
inc A complete chord would be preferable given the voice leading situation
Improper The chord should not be used in this inversion (e.g. diminished triad in root
inversion position).
inv A more typical inversion (most likely, root position) is preferable.
One of the voice parts contains undesirable melodic intervals, i.e.
L Bad line
augmented or diminished intervals, or difficult leaps (mostly 7ths).
Metric A chord is improperly placed in the measure, e.g. a cadential six-four is on
placement a weak beat.
The two voices marked with lines are in parallel motion a perfect fifth
P5 Parallel fifths apart. This notation is also used for consecutive perfect fifths in contrary
The two voices marked with lines are in parallel motion a perfect octave
P8 apart. This symbol is also applied to the error when consecutive octaves
occur by contrary motion.
PREP Pitch not A suspension, or some other non-chord tone or sensitive pitch is not
Prepared prepared properly in the previous harmony. The non-chord tone is indicated
with an arrow pointing backward in the typical direction of preparation.
(e.g. Suspensions must be prepared by a common tone in the previous
A pitch is resolved incorrectly, e.g. a leading tone is not resolved to the
tonic, or a chordal seventh is not resolved downward by step. This also
R applies to unstable chords that have specific resolution tendencies (such as
the cadential 6/4). The sensitive pitch is indicated with an arrow pointing in
the typical direction of resolution.
r Voice range A pitch is above or below the typical tessitura of that voice type.
There is more than an octave between the soprano and alto, or between the
S Chord spacing
alto and tenor.
Improper use A 6/4 chord has been used in an unstylistic manner. (A 6/4 chord must be a
of 6/4 passing 6/4, a neighbor 6/4 (pedal 6/4), or a cadential 6/4.)
Voices One of the voices is in the wrong position relative to another voice (above
crossed or below, e.g. tenor above alto).
Voice Two voices overlap improperly, i.e., one voice ascends above or descends
Overlapping below the note another voice was just singing in the previous chord.
WC Wrong chord The wrong chord has been used.
WI The bass note is incorrect for the specified chord inversion.
WN Wrong note The chord contains a wrong note.
Weak The harmonic progression is poorly conceived. (This notation is used for
progression harmonization of melodies and unfigured bass exercises.)
The wrong symbol or label was applied for analyzing the music (e.g. wrong
X Wrong label
key, chord name, cadence, etc.).
Missing label
? The exercise is missing required information.
or music

Error Classes in Part Writing

Class 1 Errors
Parallel or Consecutive Fifths P5
Parallel or Consecutive Octaves or Unisons P8
Treatment of Sensitive Pitches
D, R
(aka tendency tones) (doubling, resolution)
Vital Pitch Missing (root, 3rd, or 7th) INC
Class 2 Errors
Improper Use of 6/4 Chord or Diminished Triad D, INV, TYPE?
Wrong Chord or Wrong note in Chord
(or not following fig. bass)
Improper use or treatment of non-chord tones WN, TYPE?, PREP, R
Class 3 Errors
Bad Line L
Weak Progression WP
Hidden Fifths H5 or D5
Hidden Octaves H8 or D8
Crossing or Overlapping Voices VC, O
Poor Metric Placement of Chord (e.g. Cadential 6/4) M
Class 4 Errors
Bad Spacing S
Voice out of Range r
Wrong or Missing Label X, ?
Weak Doubling d

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© 2003 Robert T. Kelley. All rights reserved. Copying of this document is permitted for classroom
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