The rule given in Green and Jones' The Principles and Practice of Tonal Counterpoint is:

The seventh may move into another voice before resolving, but when the harmony changes it will almost always resolve down by step.

I see what they're talking about in the first bar, the chordal 7ths being indicated by the dashed line, and the resolution by the arrow, but this isn't shown in the second bar. The chordal 7th does not appear to change voices. Are they referring to the resolution to Eb-maj that happens with the final eighth note?

confusing example

  • Is there another rule on the page that explains the second bar?
    – ericw31415
    Dec 30, 2017 at 23:13
  • 1
    Yeah, I suspect the second half is illustrating the fact that the seventh sometimes has an ornamented resolution. By the way, the resolution to Eb-maj happens on beat 3, before the final eighth note; the seventh just becomes a suspension with a delayed resolution. Dec 30, 2017 at 23:46
  • I don't think there's another rule. Directly before the stated rule is an example for the previous rule.
    – Sarkreth
    Dec 31, 2017 at 0:20
  • @PatMuchmore You should turn this into an answer; this is definitely what's being illustrated.
    – Richard
    Dec 31, 2017 at 1:04

1 Answer 1


I suspect the second half is illustrating the fact that the seventh sometimes has an ornamented resolution. I guess it’s kind of similar to the point about how a seventh can be transferred to another voice, because the seventh is introduced at the beginning and then seems to go away, but is then reintroduced on the upbeat of beat 2, reestablishing the seventh before moving to the Eb chord on beat 3. It doesn’t shift voices, but it does have a similar status since it looks on the surface like it isn’t resolving down like a seventh should. Indeed, there’s a further delay of the standard downward resolution as the seventh hangs on as a suspension in the Eb chord, which is then itself further delayed by a decorated resolution. The ultimate resolution of the seventh introduced on beat 1 doesn’t happen until the final note of the measure, after many changes of embellishing function and several surface embellishments of the embellishment.

Aside from the similarity that both voice shifting and extensive decoration cause what looks like a surface violation of the downward resolution of all sevenths, I can’t explain why they’re put in the same example. I’m very surprised there isn’t some text explaining these details, which are an important additional example of the underlying principle of delayed resolution. Perhaps there was a breakdown during the editing process.

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