So, I wrote this pastoral piece and it sounds good to me. One thing I am curious about though is why the first diminished 7th here builds up tension and more specifically why the restatement of C minor the first time does not feel like a resolution. I know why the F minor sounds dissonant here(or at least more dissonant than it would have if I put an F there instead of an Ab). It is because I am doubling the chordal third in the melody and the chordal third is minor. Here is the section I am talking about so that you can see the harmonic and melodic framework off of which I built the C minor section of my pastoral piece:

T: Country Day
T: C minor Section
C: Cheyanna Marie Ward
M: 4/4
L: 1/4
Q: 1/4=140
%%score (pian) (pian2)
K: C minor
V:pian name="Piano Right Hand" clef=treble
V:pian2 name="Piano Left Hand" clef=bass
[V:pian] G1 E1/2C1/2 C1 D1/4E1/4F1/4G1/4 | A1 z1 G1 E1/2C1/2 | C1 D1/4E1/4F1/4G1/4 F1 z1 | G1 E1/2C1/2 C1 D1/4E1/4F1/4G1/4 | A1 z1 G1 E1/2C1/2 | C1 D1/4E1/4F1/4G1/4 =B2 | [C4E4G4c4] ||
s: !ff!
[V:pian2] [C,,1E,,1G,,1C,1] [E,,1G,,1C,1E,1] [C,1E,1G,1C1] D,,1/4D,,1/4D,,1/4E,,1/4 |[F,,1A,,1C,1F,1] z1 [C,,1E,,1G,,1C,1] [E,,1G,,1C,1E,1] |[C,1E,1G,1C1] D,,1/4D,,1/4D,,1/4E,,1/4 [D,,1F,,1A,,1=B,,1] z1 | [C,,1E,,1G,,1C,1] [E,,1G,,1C,1E,1] [C,1E,1G,1C1] D,,1/4D,,1/4D,,1/4E,,1/4 |[F,,1A,,1C,1F,1] z1 [C,,1E,,1G,,1C,1] [E,,1G,,1C,1E,1] |[C,1E,1G,1C1] D,,1/4D,,1/4D,,1/4E,,1/4 [D,,2F,,2A,,2=B,,2] | [C,,4E,,4G,,4C,4] ||

So why does the first diminished 7th not really resolve despite me restating C minor(which as a D dim7, it would normally resolve to)? Does it have to do with the rest before the C minor is restated? And yes, that is an enharmonic respelling of D dim7 to fit better with the key of C minor.

1 Answer 1


...enharmonic respelling of D dim7 to fit better with the key of C minor.

I don't follow your meaning. That chord is probably best described as viio6/5 tones `D F Ab B♮).

enter image description here

As far as resolution goes, I think what you have in the bass clef is the standard thing: viio in first inversion with the leading tone and supertonic moving in contrary motion to the tonic, TI up to DO and RE down to DO or B♮ to C and D to C. (Green lines.) FA to ME or F to Eb would be the typical way for that voice to resolve.

The only thing I imagine sounds unresolved to you is the treble part FA to SOL or F up to G. (Blue line.) That moves in the opposite direction of FA's tendency to move down to MI.

The isn't necessarily a problem. (Maybe you did that so the double FAs didn't move in parallel octaves?) But, if that motion upward FA to SOL is the problem, you could try to revoice the chord. Perhaps cut the F in the bass, then have the F in the treble move down to Eb. Of course that will change the line, but it may address your sense that the chord isn't resolving.

  • Yes, I was subconsciously trying to avoid parallel octaves in my voice leading while still having full chords which as it just so happens made me able to restate the melody with just a few tweaks to the end of it. I'm not saying that it is a problem in my piece having F move up to G, giving a sense that the tension of the diminished 7th has been left unresolved for the repeat of the phrase, I was just asking why that is that despite the bass motion and the restatement of the tonic, it feels unresolved.
    – Caters
    Commented May 31, 2019 at 21:17
  • @Caters, right, not a problem, but that motion opposite of tendency is probably the reason for the unresolved feel. Sort of like an imperfect cadence. Even though both have dominant to tonic harmony, the top voice doesn't end on the tonic and therefore feels 'incomplete' if your ear is very sensitive to that style of harmony. Commented May 31, 2019 at 21:24
  • And so after the melody repeats and I tweak it a little, instead of stepping down to F like previously, I have it leap up to the leading tone. Same bass motion but because the repeat of the melody moves up to the leading tone which resolves naturally to C instead of having the melody move down to F, the final diminished 7th feels like it has truly resolved to tonic.
    – Caters
    Commented May 31, 2019 at 21:36

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