Four Part Harmony & Counterpoint analyzer

This forum is pretty good about avoiding the “Why Would You Do That” syndrome, but it still creeps in. I’ve been guilty of it.

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Technically its both. When you auto tune cubase analyzes the recorded vocal correct? That is what the variaudio feature does. If you record a four part harmony the way you analyze it will be through variaudio to ensure proper key right? What else are you checking when analyzing harmonies? Secondly he did say 4 part writing so yes that is composing :slight_smile:

Part-writing from the Common Practice Era is much more complex and takes into account things like hidden parallels and augmented intervals. Dorico already has a tool to fill in harmonies based on the chords provided, and it’s pretty good. But formal 4-part harmonziation is a different animal.

Here’s an example of hidden parallels: sting_frtcktoktavkvint.pdf (


Thanks for the tip. I havent used dorico but i guess im going to look into it.

Clearly, but that wasn’t my point. AFAIK the history of theory exercises dates to the European conservatories in the 18th-19th centuries which attempted to develop a rigorous system of music. My first training was in the French conservatory system which was rigorous to a fault. On the positive side it was thorough and technically excellent training. On the negative it was stultifying and creativity killing, and bad for the ‘musical spirit’.

In theory you see this in the old textbooks from the early 20th century (available online), and in my early training from the Piston books, with it’s “I goes to IV, but sometimes” list of rules. My position is that level of rigor is ridiculous and creativity killing. Why the hell do I care if a || 5th snuck in there, as long as it sounds good to a modern ear (my ear) and the effort in trying to see them is enhancing the ability to see and control the material to my intent?

As my college piano teacher said “A machine can play technically better than you, so don’t try to beat it!” I could write a program that would compose 3-part better and faster than me but who cares. The goal isn’t for musicians to be as good as machines, but to develop their skills at manipulating notes. Which in my view is better achieved by not slavishly worrying about ‘mistakes’, and instead developing the ability to see what you are doing and making friends with the notes.

So I’m questioning the whole point of using a checker, but if anybody wants to do that there’s more than enough choices here to pick from.

For a refreshing look at an alternative way of learning theory - the one that Bach, Mozart/Beethoven/Handel etc learned from, take a look at the Partimenti system which is having a resurgence. John Mortensen’s two books “The Pianist’s Guide to Historic Improvisation” and “Improvising Fugue” are practical guides (if you play the piano, though it’s said other instruments can learn from it). Pre the modern system all musicians learned to perform, compose and improvise simultaneously, which has been lost in the modern approach.


I agree, and I appreciate you articulating your perspective.

But this is exactly the kind of philosophical discussion the OP explicitly said he did not want in his thread, less than 2 hours earlier. Did you read post #20?


I’m grateful for this recommendation. These were previously unknown to me. I’ve already ordered the one on fugues.

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Nope, just replying to another poster. Otherwise I’m not much into the posting police (OP or not), as long as a discussion is relevant and polite I personally don’t care if people digress a bit - those discussion are usually more interesting anyhow :grin:


John’s got a Patreon and forum where you can participate in challenges - video of yourself doing an improvisation. His YouTube channel (Cederville Music or something) is good too, to see what can be done.

You’ll start learning the Rule of the Octave in all keys, which is more challenging than it sounds. Start a new thread and ping me, and I’ll post a Dorico project I did with it in all keys for use at the piano bench, to help practice from.


“Dorico is surely a notation and engraving program, that also has playback capability to assist”:

I certainly don’t fundamentally disagree, but I interpret Dorico to be a “Composition Workstation” program. So, anything it can do to speed up, simplify, or improve the reliability of composition processes, I at least would think valuable.

Playback is a good example: Our “audiation” skills should ideally be such that we can recreate the sound of an entire orchestra in our “mind’s ear” from simply viewing a conductor’s score.

However, even fully-professional newspaper writers need to proofread what they write, and that’s essentially what Dorico’s playback helps us do: Reduce the chances that we “miss something.”

Similarly, writers can appreciate having spelling and grammar checkers alerting them to potential issues, and I perceive such checkers to be analogous with such a part-writing/voice-leading checker.

Of course, the usefulness of such a checker assumes that you’re writing in this sort of style. Some might argue that nowadays it’s a niche-case style, but still a historically-important style, and it can still produce compelling results. Plus of course, just because it detects a parallel fifth that you missed (perhaps on a German A6 resolution), that doesn’t necessarily mean that you must “fix” it.


For me it’s more analogous to using a spell checker on a text you wrote in a language you just invented: only useful, if you borrow words from an existing language.

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There are of course pretty-much-accepted rules for voice-leading, including what the OP mentioned here. I too would find a checker for those rules useful as well, from time to time.

We can all find them ourselves, just as we can find spelling mistakes ourselves, but such things are easy to automate, so why not?

Too many false positives?


False positives are a reasonable concern, yes, such as CB doubling ‘cello, or bassoon similarly doubling clarinet. These are, essentially, composite timbres rather than independent contrapuntal lines (kinda like combining organ stops)

It’s been quite a while since I’ve used Sibelius, but as I recall, what their such function did was color the note heads of parallel/direct octaves/fifths (possibly stems too; can’t immediately recall). In the case of intentionally-doubled lines, you see the two doubled lines both “lighted up,” so to speak, so it’s really obvious that that’s not relevant.

Don’t forget my favorite: piccolo & tuba!


Tuba in its high range and Piccolo down low… ideal. :woozy_face:

The theme song to the Muppet Christmas Carol agrees. :laughing:

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