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Would the second chord be written as I7 - 6 or I62 - 1?

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  • Which do you think is correct? Commented Dec 7, 2021 at 22:44
  • @AndrewChin My first idea was to label it I7 - 6, but I7 is also a dominant 7th chord. The other option doesn't show the intervals between the upper 3 notes and the bass.
    – Daniel
    Commented Dec 7, 2021 at 23:38
  • Technically, a I can’t be a dominant 7th, but I’m nitpicking. Aaron’s right, this has been covered before, though that other Q/A is a bit confusing. I’m not sure I agree with the accepted answer that it’s “more common” to just not show the suspension in the roman numerals, but check out the Aldwell & Schachter page it links to. That’s what I’m used to —that is to say, yes, I7—6. Commented Dec 8, 2021 at 1:23
  • If it were in root position the figured bass would more idiomatically be written 9-8 rather than 2-1.
    – phoog
    Commented Dec 8, 2021 at 11:56

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IMO, this previous post How writing a dominant 7 sus4 chord in RNA ( Vsus7 chord in the 1st inversion) provides the best answer, because it gives the method to determine the numeric figures to add to Roman numeral analysis regardless of what type of chord is being analyzed. It's a shame that others closed such a good post.

Anyway, according to that method, you write the numeric figures based on the intervals above the bass.

Your second option - 2-1 - looks like scale degree numbers, but you don't want to use those.

The bass is E and the suspended note above is a D which is a seventh above the bass. So, the chord is I, but given the bass the intervals above the bass as 3/6/7. So, it's I3/6/7.

FWIW, the chord is not a seventh chord, and of course, it is not a ninth chord. The point of the suspension figure is to recognize the D is not a chord tone. One way to analyze this passage is to just write V4/2 I6 below for the chords, and for the suspension figure, a melodic aspect, just put sus, or 9-8 above the D in the treble clef. (See @phoogs comment about 9-8 versus 2-1.)

Personally, I think I3/6/7 is hard to read and understand. V4/2 I6 with sus or 9-8 keeps harmonic analysis symbols with chords and non-chord tone analysis separate with suspension figures.

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