In bar 25 there is what some call a G chord with F# as a neighbour tone. Why not call it a suspension? In bar 25 we are going from a fourth to a third. It sounds like a resolution of fourth to third. I actually hear: I6 to V (4-3) to I6. What is correct? enter image description here

  • You seem to have forgotten how to read the Bass Clef! Bar 9 is B-D followed by A to (leadingB) to C . May 31, 2019 at 12:23
  • You are either reading the bass clef wrong or counting the bars wrong May 31, 2019 at 12:40
  • Bar 9 has B-D-B in LH
    – user20754
    May 31, 2019 at 12:50
  • @Hank no. There are two notes on bar 9 LH and they are B-A May 31, 2019 at 13:02
  • 3
    Instead of beating up the OP for mistaking the bar numbers and voting to close, how about just clearing up the bar number mistake and then answer the question? May 31, 2019 at 13:04

4 Answers 4


(For simplicity's sake, this answer ignores the B held in the bass on beat 2.)

Remember that there are three parts to a suspension.

A suspended tone must first be prepared as a consonance. It is then suspended as a dissonance, and then it resolves to a consonance. These three parts of the suspension are labelled as P, S, and R below:

enter image description here

The preparation is, in many respects, the most important part to a suspension. More specifically, a suspension must be held over from the prior chord. In the example you cited, there is no G on beat 1 that is held over onto beat 2. As such, the G on beat 2 cannot be a suspension.

Although 4–3 is a very common suspension, and although beat 2 is a 4–3 above the bass D, your example is not a suspension because the G on beat 2 is not prepared and suspended over from the prior beat.

We can better understand this entire measure as a G chord in first inversion. Thus it's not the G on beat 2 that's the non-chord tone, but rather the F♯ that immediately comes after it that is a lower neighbor tone.

  • Great answer!!!
    – user20754
    May 31, 2019 at 13:31
  • Why do you say there is no G preparation on beat one? If this bar was on its own I'd call the G a suspension. I agree that it's all a chord of G, but it would be a suspension if this was just one part and the rest of the band played a D major. on beat two. No? .
    – PeterJ
    Jun 1, 2019 at 13:17
  • @PeterJ My example would be, but the original example would not be a suspension because there is no G on beat 1. Did I understand your question?
    – Richard
    Jun 1, 2019 at 15:40
  • @Richard - Oh yes. I thought your example was the original bar.
    – PeterJ
    Jun 1, 2019 at 16:29

Hank, are you counting bar 9... of the second part? The actual bar number is 25 which has B D B in the bass.

In bar 25 from bass to the top the tones are B D G D chord I6 the RH G to F# would be called a neighbor tone.

In the next bar 26 the tones are C E G E chord IV the RH again has G to F# as G is still a chord tone the movement to F# is still called a neighbor tone.


Re. G as a 4th above D

Here is a harmonic skeleton...

enter image description here

...the first bar is the basic harmony of bar 25 in the question without the F# NCT. Notice that while G is a 4th above D (highlighted yellow) it is a 6th above the bass B. The essential interval movement is 6-5 (highlighted red.) The is what happens in mm. 25-26. In those bars when the G moves to F# the F# isn't an essential chord tone it's a NCT, a neighbor tone.

In the second bar we also have a G above D forming a 4th, but in this case the D is the bass. The essential interval movement is 4-3. This happens in m. 15 just before the double bar.

  • Why not call it a suspension? In bar 25 we are going from a fourth to a third. It sounds like a resolution fourth to third.
    – user20754
    May 31, 2019 at 13:13
  • @Hank, the difference in NT neighbor tone or SUS suspension will be the which tone is the chord tone and which is the non-chord tone. May 31, 2019 at 13:16
  • SUS would be the G as NCT supposedly 'resolving' down to F#, but G is a chord tone. We want to identify F# as some NCT. Do you see the difference? First identify the chord tones, then the NCT. May 31, 2019 at 13:17
  • If we identify F# as a chord tone, the chord would be a iii tones B D F# which is tonally weak. Also, from a metrically point of view the F# isn't really emphasized and so less likely to be a bona fide chord tone (although sometimes a NCT is held a long time for effect.) May 31, 2019 at 13:22
  • 1
    @Hank, I think the common example of a dissonant 4th resolving down to a third would be I6/4 to V the cadential 6/4. Technically this still isn't a suspension, but rather an appoggiatura. In my mind the key thing is the 4th in a cadential 6/4 is dissonant to the bass. Whereas in this example in bar 25 the G is a 4th above the tenor part - the D, but relative to the bass the G is a sixth. May 31, 2019 at 13:39

It's not called a suspension because it's not a suspension.

The bass note in the WHOLE of bar 25 is B. The only way you could name this as a suspension is if you want to argue that the harmony in bar 25 is I6 iii(sus6-5) I6, which doesn't make any sense.

If you don't hear the bass note as B for the whole bar, you are not listening to what the composer wrote, but what you imagine he might have written.

If could have been a 4-3 suspension over a D chord, if the B in the bass wasn't there - for example if the bass line was B A B or B C B not B -- B.

Rewriting the music to pretend the bass note is D on the second beat, as in another answer, is just cheating.


There's some merit to this question if we ignore the fact that the B is sustained through the second beat in the LH. We might then posit that the root note becomes D on beat 2 and the melody G is an unprepared suspension.

However, as B - D persists through the whole bar, we must accept that G is the harmony note, F# merely a decoration.

But the piece would have been played on a keyboard instrument not over-blessed with sustain. May we allow just a hint of delightful ambiguity here?

(Though the 'examination answer', given the sustained left hand B, is definitely that G is the main note, F# the neighbouring auxilary.)

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