I have hit a problem with this chord change in my four part writing. We are in A minor.

The VI chord is in first inversion, so A must be in the bass. (I have made a mistake in the figure. the VI chords are 6 3 chords, and not 4 3 7th chords as figured here!) The leading note (G sharp) of V must lead to tonic, as if it leads to anything else (F or C) , melodic augmented/ diminished intervals are created.

Example 1 is my solution- I have tripled the root.

Example 2 shows the problem of a melodic tritone interval created between B and F.

Example 3 shows the problem of parallel 5ths.

Is my solution adequate? And is it the only solution? I have tried many things and this seems to be my only path.

enter image description here

  • 3
    Could I suggest you just use a capital letter for majors, and a little m for minors? There's really no need for capital M, and handwritten, it confused me to start with. (It's also quicker, and saves on pencils!)
    – Tim
    Commented Mar 7, 2021 at 15:36
  • Hi Tim- all chords here are major.
    – EdB123
    Commented Mar 7, 2021 at 16:18
  • Yes, I realised that. Just trying to save you a few moments! Most people just write C, E, F etc.,for major chords.
    – Tim
    Commented Mar 7, 2021 at 16:38
  • ah sorry Tim, I'm with you now! Thanks for the suggestion!
    – EdB123
    Commented Mar 7, 2021 at 16:54
  • Have you tried E-B-E-G# for your first E chord from bottom to top instead of anything starting with E-G# from bottom to top? With a bottom-to-top resolution of E-B-E-G# to A-C-F-A or A-A-F-A, I think that solves all your problems.
    – Dekkadeci
    Commented Mar 7, 2021 at 19:09

2 Answers 2


As you said the first is the right solution. Trebling the root, especially with a major chord, is fine. The second not only has the falling augmented 4th but also the treble and bass produce an unattractive parallel motion.

There are a few other solutions. The 2nd one would work with a unison E in the treble and alto, the alto falling to C. The 3rd one would work if they were parallel 4ths instead of 5ths: E -> F in the treble, B -> C in the alto.

To be very pedantic, repeating the 3rd, especially in a major chord, should usually be avoided if possible. However in your first example it is not possible and produces good voicing leading; and as A is the tonic it is the right solution and works fine.

The G# could sometimes fall to F, it would depend on context and what sounds right to you. Bach would sometimes let the leading note fall to produce a fuller chord in a perfect cadence. I wouldn't do it if it was for an exam.

  • thanks Ian. Yes, I forgot about the unison option. Also, I thought repeating the third was okay in first inversion chords? (unless its the leading note etc). But yes as you say, I don't think this can be avoided here anyway. Regarding the 4ths solution, this would work if it wasn't for the chord that comes before EM (which isn't shown here)! Thanks very much for this answer.
    – EdB123
    Commented Mar 7, 2021 at 16:17

Was this progression given to you, or is this a progression you gave yourself?

I ask because, in the common-practice style that these exercises usually try to emulate, the VI chord is almost always in root position, especially when it comes after a V chord. In other words, part of the problem is that the VI chord being in first inversion is actually creating further trouble for yourself.

I'll answer your question obliquely, which I know might be strange since I'm changing the parameters of your question. But in my experience, changing two things will instantly make this progression better:

  1. Changing this VI6 to a root-position VI makes this progression much more idiomatic.
  2. The tripled root in the first chord also presents some problems. If this is in the middle of a voice-leading exercise, see if you can adjust any part writing so that this chord only has a doubled root.
  3. If you're able to do those two things, then resolving V–VI in minor is a simple case of resolving the leading tone and the bass up by step and resolving all other voices down (one by step, one by third). In fact, this is basically the only way to resolve this V–VI progression in minor without having parallel fifths, parallel octaves, or an augmented second.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.