Voice-leading analysis of music 1: the foreground
Voice-leading analysis of music 1: the foreground

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Voice-leading analysis of music 1: the foreground

3.3.3 Suspensions

Here a dissonance is created by delaying a fall to the main harmony note, so that the treble and bass are ‘out of step’ with one another. The dissonance in this case must be prepared and resolved downwards by step. Suspensions are usually referred to by two figures indicating the interval between the dissonant notes and the interval between the consonant notes to which they resolve. The commonest forms of suspension (using numerals to indicate intervals above the bass) are 4–3, 7–6 and 9–8 (6–5 patterns are not strictly suspensions, since the sixth and fifth are both consonant). Example 10 shows a simple chain of 7–6 suspensions. In reducing suspensions to a more fundamental linear progression, we simply need to realign the two voices such that they are consonant with one another.

Example 10 Chain of 7–6 suspensions as an elaboration of a chain of sixths

Activity 9

Listen to the recording of Example 10.

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In Example 11, taken from the rondo finale of the Sonata in F, K533, Mozart deploys a chain of suspensions, breathing new life into a somewhat hackneyed late Baroque formula. Each seventh (shown in my reduction as minims beneath the score) is prepared as the third of the previous chord, and resolves downwards by step onto the third of the following one.

Example 11 Mozart, Piano Sonata in F, K533, last movement, bars 95–9

Activity 10

Listen to the effect created by this in the audio clip below.

Click to listen to audio clip

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