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In a cadence (2 part) will the upper note always be the last note? For example, I have to write GBD for chord V (C major). So the bass will have G but will the top part have a B or a D?

Also, when writing Roman numerals for chords, should I write this: enter image description here

Or this: enter image description here

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  1. No, the upper note will not always be "the last note" (I presume by "the last note" you mean the final pitch when you spell out a triad, like D in G–B–D). In four-part harmony, a triad will always have at least one doubled pitch, so with a G in the bass you could have any of the remaining three pitches in the soprano. In two-part voice leading, in most cases you'll want the root and third of every chord, so you'll just have to fill out that requirement in whatever way makes the most sense (often root in the bass, third up top).

  2. As for whether you should write v or V, it depends on the chord! In Roman-numeral analysis, we use uppercase Roman numerals to indicate a major triad, and lowercase Roman numerals to indicate minor triads. (There are also similar rules for augmented and diminished, but that's another story.) So if you have G–B–D, that's a major triad, so you write V. But if you have G–B♭–D, that's a minor triad, so you write v.

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    Important to note that in typed text (like on this site) the difference between V and v is not visually the same as when it's handwritten. The only way to distinguish clearly between a major V and a minor v in handwriting is to put bars on the top and bottom for uppercase, major chords, as the OP does in the second image. Technically, I think bars like that actually change the cardinality from 5 to 5000—at least to an Ancient Roman—but the convention has stuck nonetheless. – Pat Muchmore Sep 22 '17 at 10:10
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In a cadence (2 part) will the upper note always be the last note? For example, I have to write GBD for chord V (C major). So the bass will have G but will the top part have a B or a D?

No. It could be any note in the harmony: G, B, or D.

Also, when writing Roman numerals for chords, should I write this or this

The case of the roman numeral is usually very important.

Depending on the notation system, the case either tells you:

a. The quality of the chord (is it G major or G minor?), or

b. The quality of the scale from which the chord is taken (does the G chord, which is acting as V, belong to the C major scale or the C minor scale?)

The former (a) is older, and perhaps still more common. The latter (b) is more modern, much easier to notate and read, and gaining popularity. To know which your teacher wants you to use, you'll need to consult your music theory textbook. If it's Aldwell and Schachter then it's b.

That being said, as the dominant chord acting in a cadence, it will always have a major quality and belong to the major scale, so a V in a cadence will always be written in uppercase, under either notation system, unless it is a highly unusual piece. In Classical and Baroque it is pretty much 100% going to be uppercase.

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Roman numerals tell us what the chord is, and what the bass note is. They tell us nothing about the voicing above.

Don't fall into the trap of expecting chord names to be a COMPLETE description of the music. If they could be, we wouldn't need notation.

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