According to what I have learned, the dissonant interval of an A4 can resolve to a P4 when going from vii°6 to I but if there is a D5 it must resolve properly (a D5 can go to P5 under certain circumstances but this doesn't seem to be one of them). I wrote this progression but am not really happy with it. The problem is that if I move the tenor to E4 and the alto and soprano down to A4 and C#4 I wont resolve the tritone properly. What should I do in this case?

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1 Answer 1


May I ask you to cite where it says a diminished fifth must resolve properly? I ask because there will be moments later, with more advanced chords, that diminished fifths can't resolve properly. (One will be a vii°7/V, where resolving diminished fifths properly will result in a doubled leading tone, one of the worst of all voice-leading discretions!)

In my experience, a leading tone in an inner voice can always resolve down, no matter if it's part of a diminished fifth or not. As such, this tenor G♯ can resolve down to E no problems.

More problematic, however, are the parallel octaves going into the final chord: both the alto and the bass have B moving down to A.

Lastly, is this an exercise you were given, or one you composed? These vii°6 chords are very often passing chords that move from I to I6 or vice-versa. They do happen as neighbor chords (as you have here—note that the bass B is a neighbor to the surrounding As), but that seems to be a bit less common than moving up to I6. It's possible you're ears want to hear that passing progression, and that's why you're "not really happy with it."

  • I still have not gotten to more advanced voice leading so that could be why but this is what my book says ibb.co/cg17bMk In other words D5 to P5 only when moving to I6. This is an exercise that gives me a bassline to harmonize. I am aware of the passing function of vii but as you say, it is used as a neighbor too :)
    – user35708
    Commented Oct 25, 2021 at 11:12
  • @armani Have you encountered inversions of V7 yet? A V43 seems much more idiomatic to me here than viio6.
    – Richard
    Commented Oct 25, 2021 at 11:18
  • Yes I have but in this exercise I can only use vii6 for the ^2. Perhaps my soprano is wrong? my book shows this progression but the soprano would do ^1 ^7 ^1 or ^3 ^2 ^3. Not ^5 ^4 ^3 as I have.
    – user35708
    Commented Oct 25, 2021 at 11:25
  • @armani it's just difficult to harmonize vii°6 to I in four voices. You basically have to bend a rule to introduce the fourth voice, because if you double either note in the tritone, one of the two voices will suffer frustrated expectations in the resolution, and if you double the bass, you either have parallel octaves or a doubled third in the resolution. Since the rules dictate a second chord with no fifth, a common solution would be to double ^4 and have one voice move to ^5, frustrated expectations notwithstanding. Whether that's acceptable at this point in your study I couldn't say.
    – phoog
    Commented Oct 26, 2021 at 10:44

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