The piece in question is 'Polish Song' by Hiller. I have labelled the bars from 1 to 11.

The piece is in A minor, and we seem to have A minor leading to V7 in the opening measures (I'm putting the C in the melody down as V13).

  • Bar 3: We have a G natural in the bass. I was tempted to sharp it, but there doesn't seem to be space for the A natural resolution at the beginning of the next bar, so perhaps this is minor chord v?

  • Bars 5/6: We have C E G, with B in the bass, which could imply a major chord III? (not augmented.) I flirted with the idea of this being V7 (with an added 13), but the melody notes in the next bar seem to suggest this does not resolve to the i chord. Any ideas as to what is going on here harmonically speaking?

  • Bar 9: seems to be V7 but in second inversion. If I put a G sharp underneath the B (to change it to first inversion) the texture becomes cluttered. As far as I know, this actually shouldn't be a legitimate place for a second inversion chord, as it is on the strongest beat of the bar and is obviously not part of a cadencial 6 4. So what is happening here?

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  • Which book is this?
    – Nabla
    Aug 31, 2020 at 18:29
  • 1
    ABRSM grade 8 Theory Workbook
    – EdB123
    Aug 31, 2020 at 18:30
  • I think bar 4 is III in root position, not i in first inversion. Does that change your thinking at all?
    – phoog
    Aug 31, 2020 at 19:52
  • Hello again! thanks for responding. Ah yes, I see. In which case it could go: bar 4- III, bar 5- III7, bar 6- minor v (or III7 again), bar 7- ii7, bar 8- Major V, bar 9- V7? Interested to know your opinion on that second inversion V7 in bar 9.
    – EdB123
    Aug 31, 2020 at 20:05
  • @EdB123 Unfortunately I am less familiar with this period (and particularly the structure of folk melodies doesn't always fit precisely with common-practice harmony). But 9 does seem likely to be V7 without a third. Again, it would be easier to be certain of that if one could see the rest of the piece (or at least as far as the first measure without an E in the bass). I'm on the fence about m5 because I don't see anything suggesting whether the B is a chord tone (Cmaj7) or perhaps there's a quick V/III-III progression there. Are there clues later in the piece?
    – phoog
    Sep 1, 2020 at 16:23

1 Answer 1


m. 3

The G natural in the bass on beat 3 lets us know this is V/III.

mm. 5-6

Bar 5, beat 1 is V6/III, moving to III for beats 2 and 3. Bar 6 is most likely a C major echo of bars 1 and 2, so III on beats 1 and 2, followed by V#/i on beat 3.

m. 9

This is V7 in root position; however, the root happens to be delayed until the end of the measure.

  • Just given it a proper look. I'm sure you are correct, but was just going to ask your reasoning behind interpreting the end of bar 3 as V/III and not a major III back to chord i (although im aware thats not a very common progression). Would you say that this is essentially a key change to the relative major as of bar 3?i suppose bar 5 is a further clue? Or are we still in A minor? Also, are you calling it Vsharp/i to underline the point the G is now sharpened for this chord? Thanks very much for your help (yet again!)
    – EdB123
    Sep 3, 2020 at 21:36
  • 1
    Bar 4 is a cadence in the relative major; very common in minor keys. And yes, the sharp sign is to clarify that the V chord includes G#.
    – Aaron
    Sep 4, 2020 at 2:43
  • Hi Aaron, just working through this piece again. Just wondering about your choice of major V of i on beat 3 of bar 6. If this was a 'C major echo' of bars 1 and 2, wouldn't the harmony be III for the first 2 beats, but V of III for the last beat, as opposed to V of i? I know the next chord isnt III, but it isn't minor i either- so just wondering how you arrived at this? thanks!
    – EdB123
    Sep 7, 2020 at 19:55
  • 1
    @EdB123 Bar 7 is clearly back in A minor, so the "echo" ends in favor of a transition via V/i.
    – Aaron
    Sep 7, 2020 at 20:03
  • Hi Aaron- what chord/ chords would you say bar 7 is? I decided against A minor down to the leap between the B and the D.
    – EdB123
    Sep 8, 2020 at 17:44

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