# How to write Roman numeral figures for non-chord tones (NCT) and inversions, triads and seventh chords?

What Roman numeral figures distinguish a 2nd inversion dominant triad with a NCT fourth from a root position dominant 7th chord with a NCT fourth?

Examples, `V` chord in `A` major:

# 2nd inversion dominant triad with a NCT fourth

`B E A`

Bass `B` with `7` and `4` above = `V7/4`

# root position dominant seventh chord with a NCT fourth

`E A D`

Bass `E` with `7` and `4` above = `V7/4`

If I don't have an incomplete seventh chord, I have...

`E A B D`

Bass `E` with `7`, `5`, and `4` above = `V7/5/4`

It might be worth while to extend to examples to a...

# second inversion dominant seventh chord with NCT fourth

`B E A D`

Bass `B` with `7`, `4`, and `3` above = `V7/4/3`

Am I following the correct procedure to get RNA figures?

If so, it seems I need to include all three figures for seventh chords to avoid ambiguity with triads.

EDIT

My question is specifically about the ambiguity of the numeric figures and whether the figure will indicate not only a NCT, but also an inversion.

My question isn't about the figures `7-6` or `4-3` to show a resolution. I understand that if the NCT resolves that adding the resolution figures will make clear on the chord or resolution what the bass is for both chords... but what if the NCT doesn't resolve?

Another point of clarification: an `11` figure won't clear this up. An `11` figure would in most cases require the chord third. In my examples the figures `7` and `4` are specifically the NCT displacement of the third.

I dont' know if this will clarify my question but...

With jazz symbols I could write `Esus4/B` for a 2nd inversion triad (clearly not a seventh chord) with the third displaced as a NCT the minimal tones being `B E A`, and I could write `E7sus4` for a root position dominant seventh chord with the third displaced as a NCT the minimal tones being `E A B D` and the `B` sometimes optionally omitted. These symbols seem unambiguous.

In RNA I think I can write the equivalent figures, but to be unambiguous I must use inactive figures which are conventionally omitted the `5` or `3` depending on the inversion as I detailed in my examples.

I'm only looking for confirmation if I'm treating the figures the right way.

If not, I'm looking for an explanation about the chord with the NCT, not an answer that only applies to a specific case of resolution.

• This is a helpful, clarifying edit. According to RNA standard practices, NCT's that don't move anywhere (not UNTs or LNTs, PTs, or even ETs) are simply ignored as they are seen as non-functional. As I described in my answer, the point of RNA is to show function. If an NCT doesn't "resolve" then according to RNA it has no function and cannot be counted. Thus the original conceit of your question is a bit of a red herring. It supposes non-functional NCTs have any business being in the analysis to begin with, when in fact they wouldn't be included. This is likely the crux of your confusion. Commented May 10, 2019 at 14:02
• "According to RNA...cannot be counted" can you point to some reference? A NCT functions by virtual of its dissonance. I don't see any reason why RNA couldn't be used. Commented May 10, 2019 at 14:12
• Why is it so important to you to shoe-horn something into RNA? In music theory, if the system you’re using is getting cumbersome then chances are it’s not the right system. Theory is a tool to describe music. Sure you can use a screwdriver to hammer a nail, but it’s so much easier to use the proper tool. You’re essentially asking “am I hammering the nails the right way with this screwdriver”? The confirmation is: no, not the right way. You either omit them completely, relax the RNA to include them, or use a different system. The MAA symbols you used, for example, would be much clearer than RNA Commented May 11, 2019 at 2:45
• MAA, what is that? Commented May 11, 2019 at 14:26
• MAA = Macro-Analytical Analysis, sometimes colloquially referred to as "pop" or "jazz" symbols Commented May 11, 2019 at 15:05

What Roman numeral figures distinguish a 2nd inversion dominant triad with a suspended fourth from a root position dominant 7th chord with a suspended fourth?

It's important not to lose the sense of showing harmonic function.

2nd inversion dominant triad with a suspended fourth B E A

Bass B with 7 and 4 above = V7/4

A major = Dominant is "E"

Dominant 2nd Inversion: B E G#

The Roman Numeral for this would be V6/4.

Cool, so where does that handy suspension come in?

Well, remember we need to show function. So the correct way to put the suspension into RNA would be to show where the suspension goes:

V(7-6)/4

Here we show that the "7" above the bass resolves by step to a sixth, thus revealing the "2nd inversion".

root position dominant seventh chord with a suspended fourth

Okay, so still A Major:

Root position dominant-7th chord:

E G# B D = V7

With suspended 4th:

E A B D = V7/(4-3)

Again, we're showing where the suspension is expected to go. If you want to get really technical, the chord should be: V7/5/(4-3) but nobody would write this because it's obnoxious.

second inversion dominant seventh chord with suspended fourth

Still A Major:

B E A D = V(7-6)/4/3

So you're on the right track. Just don't lose sight of function, which is sort of the whole point of RNA (and why the system breaks down when you try to apply it to analyze non-functional harmony).