Sometimes, in an ordinary perfect cadence the leading tone doesnt resolve but moves to ^5 if it is in an inner voice. So why does it have to resolve to ^1 in a deceptive cadence or V-VI progression?

2 Answers 2


First of all a leading tone should resolve if possible. A leading tone falling into the fifth is only really considered an option for an inner voice to ensure that the final chords is a full chord. And this is only really relevant if the fifth of the dominant is in the top voice, which means that the root of the dominant has to fall into the third of the tonic, and thus the fifth would be missing.

Now for a deceptive cadence first see that the leading tone (if not resolving) would need to fall into the root of the VI, which is already played by the bass. So there is no actual reason for this. Also if we have V7-VI this would then imply a tritone moving in parallel into a fourth (not very elegant) or into a fifth (to be avoided).

In a V-VI the root of the V (or in case of a V7 the seventh) needs to fall into the fifth of the VI, and the fifth of the V needs to fall into the third of the VI. So if the leading tone resolves it as to rise into the third of the VI too. So you will always have to double the third (which is the root of the tonic). While you could probably use a falling leading tone to circumvent this, one has to see that this nescessary doubling is in fact an important tonal characteristic of the desceptive cadence, as since you have the root of the tonic twice it has a stronger cadence like character than you’d get if you had the full triad on the VI.

  • I understand what you mean. So this ^7 going to ^5 is only acceptable to create a complete I chord. With V to vi/VI there is no need for ^7 to go to ^6 as this note is already the bass note so there would be no need to do this except if you wanted to have a vi/VI with a doubled bass note. I guess I was trying to do this because I would have thought that first we try to double the root of the chord but from what you are saying is that the ^7 resolving is more important than a doubled root in the VI chord. Also what Richard said about the A2 in minor means that really there is no other choice.
    – user35708
    Nov 24, 2021 at 9:52
  • @armani Yes, also in fact as I said, in the case of a deceptive cadence that doubled third (which is the root of the tonic) is important for the character, as it reinforces the tonic character, making this something different than just a mediant.
    – Lazy
    Nov 24, 2021 at 11:58
  • Yes ok... I understand what you mean. So it makes the cadence sound more like a cadence because ^1 is doubled instead of ^6 :)
    – user35708
    Nov 24, 2021 at 15:28

The main issue is that of the augmented second in minor. If the leading tone of the V chord moves down to a member of the VI chord, the nearest possible chord tone is that lowered scale-degree 6, an augmented second away from the leading tone.

As such, this leading tone moves up to double the third of the submediant chord.

In major, this augmented second isn't a problem—the leading tone could just move down a major second to scale-degree 6. But in my experience, composers often automatically resolve this leading tone up anyway.

  • it never occurred to me that the question might be referring to ♭VI, i assumed they meant the same chord as V/ii. i think your reading is correct though -- after all, the leading tone doesn't have a conventional resolution in V-♮VI
    – Esther
    Nov 23, 2021 at 13:59

Your Answer

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