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The image is a part of Bach's chorale BWV 94.8 or R. 291 (image taken from www.bach-chorales.com). I want to confirm the harmony of the 2 chords marked with a star. Is the chord with a blue star A7/C# with the D as an accented passing note? And the chord with the orange star, Dsus E (or Dsus2, Dsus9 as some call it, if I am not wrong)?


You are correct for the first chord. It's a A7 in first inversion (A7/C#) or the V6 5 in your Dmajor scale. The D in the bass is a accented passing tone, like you mentioned.

The second chord is simply a D major chord with a E as a suspended note (because it was played in the previous chord) or appogiatura (because it was not held); either way, it's a non-chord tone that resolves to the chord note D. It's pretty common in Bach after the V chord to play the I, and that is what is happening here.

Bach didn't use sus2 chords per se. He might use like he did in this example, were the 2 was just a non-chord tone that is resolved in the chord note, so don't go looking for sus chords in Bach's chorales.

  • don't go looking for sus chords in Bach's chorales. I think there are lots of sus chords by Bach. sus 4->3 and sus 2->1 (9->8). Do you interprete them all as passing tones? Coming from the horizontal perspective of counterpoint? I wonder what other users think. Anyway it is an interisting point to discuss and it would demonstrate to Grace that there are always different points of view in analysis. – Albrecht Hügli Apr 30 at 15:20
  • @AlbrechtHügli yes, I would consider them as passing tones or appogiaturas or delayed resolutions or something – Shevliaskovic Apr 30 at 15:26
  • @Shevliaskovic a delayed resolution is precisely where the "sus" in sus4 and sus2 comes from. – phoog May 1 at 17:22
  • 1
    Yes there are lots of sus notes in Bach's music. The modern use of sus chords has evolved from a very long tradition, a tradition which is very alive in Bach's music. The term "sus" comes from the usage of suspended notes, notes played in the previous chord and prolonged when the chord changes. The modern usage of "sus" where a sus chord sometimes can appear without the note being played in the previous chord is an example where the term "sus" actually has lost its real meaning. – Lars Peter Schultz May 1 at 19:32

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