In the point deduction section of the AP Music Theory exam guidelines, it says:

The 6th or 4th of a 6 4 chord is unresolved or resolved incorrectly.

What exactly does this entail?

2 Answers 2


It's a little unclear exactly what you mean, but I'm guessing this is in reference to the cadential or pedal (also known as "neighbor") six-four chord.

Typically, these chords resolve to a root-position triad, and the bass doesn't move, but the upper voices do.

And typically, these upper voices will move down by a step each: the 6th above the bass will resolve down to the 5th above the bass, and the 4th above the bass will resolve down to a 3rd above the bass. This correct resolution is shown at A below.

enter image description here

Incorrect resolutions would have both of these pitches either moving up or moving down by skip. One of these is shown at B above.

  • what's the difference between this example and a IVc - I ?
    – Aric
    Commented May 13, 2018 at 13:03
  • @AricFowler I'm not sure what you mean by "IVc." Can you elaborate?
    – Richard
    Commented May 13, 2018 at 14:41
  • In example A, there's an Esus2sus4 followed by an E minor. However, the first chord could easily be interpreted as A minor in second inversion
    – Aric
    Commented May 13, 2018 at 14:44
  • How do you know that it's a six-four, when it could easily just be a second inversion chord?
    – Aric
    Commented May 13, 2018 at 14:45
  • 1
    @AricFowler Make sure you're reading in treble clef! Also, a six-four chord is a triad in second inversion. The "six-four" is the figured bass for a second-inversion triad.
    – Richard
    Commented May 13, 2018 at 14:48

In traditional harmony (and it's a good idea to stick to traditional harmony in an AB exam) a 6/4 chord conventionally resolves to a 5/3 chord on the same bass note.

Or you could extend the journey... But, like I said, an AB exam isn't the place to be clever!

enter image description here

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