Are parallel octaves okay in other styles of music?



Asked by: Derek Thigpen

The only time you shouldn’t have parallel octaves is when you are voice leading and want two parts to be completely independent. The reason why you wouldn’t use it is that it makes two voices that should be independent sound as one.

Can you use parallel octaves?





A parallel octave refers only to two consecutive notes! If you have two or more instruments that are intentionally arranged to play the same voice (in unison or) one or more octaves apart, then you have octave doubling, which gives you a fat sound.

Are parallel octaves bad?

In this style, known as the Common Practice Period, parallel fifths and octaves tend to leave a blank space, or a gap, in the musical texture (the overall sound) as if a voice has disappeared. This is why, in this context, parallel fifths are bad.

Why are parallel fifths and octaves bad?

Pretty much every theory course you will attend will probably refer to parallel or consecutive fifths as one of the greatest crimes you can commit in voice leading. The question however is why why are

Are parallel octaves allowed between outer voices?

188-189) As in two-part counterpoint it is illegal to approach a fifth or an octave in similar motion. You will be happy to know that this rule is considerably weakened in a 4-voice texture. It only applies between the outer voices, soprano and bass.

Did Bach ever use parallel fifths?





Bach never intended to write parallel fifths in m. 7. Regarding BWV 248.23 (in G Major, not included in EMB), two different harmonizations of that melody appear in EMB (chorale numbers 323 and 324), but in 4/4 instead of 12/8 measure and in D and C Major respectively.

Are consecutive octaves allowed?

This is allowed, because the parts don’t change notes. Consecutive octaves are just as bad as consecutive 5ths. Consecutive octaves can sneak in just about anywhere, so always be on the look out for them! Check for consecutive octaves between all six voice pairings, as above.

Are parallel fourths okay?

Parallel fourths (consecutive perfect fourths) are allowed, even though a P4 is the inversion and thus the complement of a P5. The literature deals with them less systematically however, and theorists have often restricted their use.

What are hidden octaves?

: an unsounded musical interval of an octave that is implied by the similar up or down motion of two voice parts and that if sounded would produce consecutive octaves.

What is a contrary octave?

A contrary one is when their is an octave after another one but they are going in opposite directions. So….how does a parallel octave fit in? They look the same as direct one to me but I know they are supposed to be different.



Can you go from a fifth to an octave?

To answer your original question: It depends. If you use similar motion in going from the fifth to the octave, that’s a non-no. Doing what you did in the example, maintaining one note of the fifth in the following octave: that’s OK, but not ideal.

How do you avoid parallel fifths and octaves?

Moving in the same. Direction by the same interval. Then be careful because that's when you're most likely to have trouble.

Can you double the leading tone?

Never double the leading tone, so don’t double the root if the root is the leading tone. Don’t double the third, except if the chord is diminished, in which case it’s good to double the third.



Can you double the 3rd in 1st inversion?

Avoid doubling the third of major triads particularly when in first inversion. (The overtones of the third of the chord work against the other notes.

What is irregular doubling?

So for example this is a G chord. And as we need our GP and d. The third is be so let's go ahead and put 2 b's in there let's see what happens if we do that. And this alto can move down to D.