This is the second episode of a fugue I have completed. Here is the link to the full thing: https://musescore.com/williamjegertiii/g-major-fugue-adagietto-synth-and-beat

At any rate, I've been reviewing it and there is a musical problem that I can't seem to find the answer to.

Combining counterpoint theory and chord theory can prove difficult sometimes, because it's difficult to find "correct" answers. Any answers that are "correct" in my mind are ones that are justifiable to me, not simply based on conventions.

I will paste a few measures.

enter image description here

The root chords are in the middle, the annotations at the top are my own key analysis shorthand. Link to my site where I explain this: https://musicofbach.com/locating-the-tonal-center-shorthand-understanding/

In short, any chord I post in the middle of the grand staff necessarily relates to the key I notated at the top.

Anyway, now the problem:

The episode begins on the 3rd measure of my pasted example. In each measure from then on out, the phrase ends with a 7th chord. Each of the 7th chords are in 6/5 inversion, yet do not resolve "conventionally" where the 3rd of the chord rises by step to the root of the next chord. I opted not to do this because I like the descending bass line in each measure.

The problem, so to speak, is that the chordal 7th of the chord resolves up each time, whereas conventional thought says the 7th must resolve down.

Now, from a counterpoint perspective, dissonant 7ths must resolve by step to consonants. Yet a 6/5 chord technically contains no dissonance, not with the bass at all. The chordal 7th does indeed resolve by step to a consonant, just not down like conventional thought encourages.

I know counterpoint deals mainly with consonance/dissonance in relation to the bass itself, and this issue really only deals with the chord's 7th.

enter image description here

The episode ends in the first measure of the next pasted example, before entering into the final entry of the subject.

You will notice that in this measure, I include a 7th chord where the chordal 7th does indeed resolve down, and the 3rd of the chord does indeed resolve up to the root of the next. In my mind, this somewhat rectified the problem.


I'm looking for some outside opinions on the this matter. I am grateful to any answer I receive.

Thank you!

3 Answers 3


I think the root of the problem (bad pun) is not so much that the 7th resolves upwards, but that the progression in the bass and treble after the fifth at the end of the bar isn't convincing.

If the treble goes from G to A, the bass can't make the obvious strong progression from C to D because of the parallel 5ths, but making the it go from C to F# (an augmented fourth) leaves the first beat of the following bar sounding weak.

I can't see a way out of that issue that doesn't involve a "complete rewrite" of the parts.


My opinion:

If I had a composition that sounds fine I wouldn’t care about rules that are 200 years old.

Or I would add new rules or exceptions of rules like:

the rules resolving the 3rd and 7th are only concerning the dominant 7 chord.


in certain cases it is allowed to resolve the 3rd of a 7th chord downwards,

the 3rd of a minor 7 chord has no leading tone tension so there’s no need to resolve it upwards.


It is too busy, your motif has no chance to develop because you have to many non-chordal notes. You also make the habit of having non chord notes on strong parts of the beat and then the return to the chord on the weak part, this although not necessarily bad, is going to make it harder to get it convincing. That type of reimagaining will take a master to do well. Let's do baby steps first.

You also only seem to have non chordal notes in two of the voices, I don't know why you would do that, that takes away from the piece.

  • In this piece, the strong beats are all on the count: 1, 2, 3 and 4. In between these, I view it as all generally weak. The business is subjective. It depends on the instrument you play it on. if you have a better transcription of what I have pasted post it up. Thanks. Feb 11, 2020 at 20:04
  • My question was about the 7ths. We can split hairs all day about the nitty gritty details of what's happening in between every strong beat, or you can simply show me your version of my episode, and justify why your's is better. Feb 11, 2020 at 20:13
  • Bach's chorales are all very busy. He broke rules all the time but is still held as a master. I urge you also, that if you are going to rewrite the episode to your definition of rightness, that you view/listen to my entire piece so you are able to give your answer in context. Feb 11, 2020 at 20:23

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