Roman numeral V with superscript circle and subscript 9

I came across this while studying harmony and couldn't figure out what its trying to say. It comes from Bach's Partita in A Minor for Flute, BWV 1013, measure 2.


2 Answers 2


Harmonically, this is a V chord in first inversion, with the chordal 9 added.

Ordinarily, this would be written V9 or, more accurately, Vo7,6, or, even more accurately, V6, because 9 chords really weren't a thing in Bach's time.

This chord symbol seems to be mixing notations by indicating it's a V9 chord and that it contains a diminished interval above the lowest pitch.

Of course, it could just be a mistake in the source.

  • 1
    Interesting, I'd never seen this circle notation used in that way before. So it indicates a diminished interval above the bass, hence a bass of G-sharp with the F above it? To be devil's advocate, could it also mean a potential B in the bass, since the F above that B would also be diminished? I know that opens the can of worms of second-inversion chords, but still...
    – Richard
    Commented Aug 19, 2023 at 13:57
  • @Richardissteppingdown Yeah, neither the circle nor the 9 really make any sense. I can't help but wonder if it's just an error, or maybe some system unique to the source.
    – Aaron
    Commented Aug 19, 2023 at 14:38

@aaron is almost there.

It is the bass figure indicating (from the bottom note) fully diminished 7th (°) D (V = fifth note) chord (D°) so inverted with the tonic 9th as the bass note (E).

Typically we now call this #vii° in functional harmony instead of the diminished dominant figuration.

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The Bach original inidicates there is no accompaniment, fyi.

Is it wrong: probably as the opening is static a-minor without actually going back and forth V-I, a harmonic feature this figure highlights. The motion is smoother and normally this beat is taken as a substitute-predominant seventh and not part of the cadential dominant, thus extending the cadence length from two beats to two measures.

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