I was reading this chorale by Bach (#130, "Meine Seele erhebet den Herrn", BWV 324) and discovered something curious. It starts in Em and modulates to G. In the last beat of the third bar, he plays a sixth chord in the key of G, with a 7th. Em7.

Interestingly, this seventh (D) doesn't resolve downwards but actually goes up to an E in the next bar. I don't understand why Bach does this here. Why does he include the seventh of the chord, to then avoid resolving it?

Any wisdom on this is appreciated! Bach Chorale #130

2 Answers 2


The D on the fourth beat in the alto is an error. It should be an E. You can compare editions at IMSLP. Both the original edition of the 1780s and the second engraving of 1831 have the E; the D was introduced in the 1870s engraving. The Neue Bach Ausgabe has the E.


Another comment mentioned that there was an engraving error.

Aside from this, I would also note that it is possible to resolve a dissonance by switching the resolving note with another from the same chord. Beethoven calls this a "permutation of resolution."

In the first example he gives, the upper F and bass B, which normally resolve to E and C, respectively, instead resolve to C and E.

enter image description here Louis Van Beethoven's Studies in Thorough-bass, Counterpoint and the Art of Scientific Composition,

  • 1
    Interesting. I don't suppose this possibility actually applies in Bach's style, but one can imagine that an engraver in the 1870s might not be aware of that, making it rather less surprising for the engraver to overlook the voice leading error.
    – phoog
    Commented Mar 16, 2023 at 17:21

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.