In the 41st bar of the Toccata of Bach's 6th Partita for keyboard, the first cord is C#,F#,D. This seems rather odd to me so I'd like to know what this cord is. I suspect the C# is a suspension from the previous bar however I am not sure.

Also I am new to this particular stack exchange site so if my question is off topic or my tags are wrong I apologies and would appreciate it if you could inform me how to ask this question correctly.

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    It may be easier for people to answer if you add an image of the excerpt you're talking about. Else, people have to go look for themselves, lowering the chances of getting an answer. – 89f3a1c Feb 25 '20 at 3:56

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We're pretty firmly in the key of B minor at this moment. There's an ascending sequence taking place here (notice how the first two beats are moved up a step to become beats three and four, which happens again at least one more time).

But what's most important here is the bass. On the final beat of m. 40, we have a viio65 of B minor. (The "65" is here is the figured bass for a first-inversion seventh chord.) When this chord resolves on the downbeat of m. 41, notice how everything except the C♯ changes. This is because this C♯, as you've guessed, is a suspension. And it's perhaps the rarest type of suspension: a suspension in the bass, what we call a "2–3 suspension." These bass suspensions are named by the intervals between the bass and the next highest chord tone: C♯ up to D is a second, and when the C♯ resolves down to B, that B up to D is a third, making this a 2–3 suspension.


the first chord is C#,F#,D. This seems rather odd to me ...

As we can see this is an excerpt of the Toccata and Fuga of the Partita in E-minor.

I suspect the C# is a suspension

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Like the 4th notes above the half notes are suspended in the toccata, Bach uses this motif in the fugue also as a suspension.


Yellow square = the motif with the suspended note and resolution.

Red square = the odd chord

Red circle = the chord note and (red stroke) the resolving chord tones.

In a fuga the 1st soggetto is in the tonic: E-minor = Dux

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We may hear i->V6 (Em-B), but it could be also ii-V7 like in the 3rd entry!
(There are many music theorists pretending that Bach didn't write/think in chords and harmony but that he came from the polyphonic horizontal voicing concept ... I personally don't think so.)

Even this is a fugue and written in counterpoint you can hear already in this short motif of 3 notes the suspension: (both hands written in Bass clef !!!)

The suspended note (1st of the 2 tied notes) isn't part of the triad. The next tone, the resolving note helps us to define the chord:

The second entry of the subject is in B-minor (= i). The resolving chord is i-> V = Bm-F# (mind the inversions of the resolving chords!)

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In bar 34 we have the 3rd entry of the subject in Em but in a different harmonisation: iv6-V2-V7-i.

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Now to your question measure 41: (I just wonder why you didn't ask about all these previous analogous situations!)

When the subject in Bm enters in the Bass (40) we have B,E,C#. B is suspended and resolving to A# -> A#,C#,E,F#: Yes! 1st inversion of F#7 (V7 of Bm).

(41) C# = suspension of the previous melody tone resolving to B: B,D,F# = Bm etc.

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I know the following link was not part of your question, but it will help you to understand better what is happening in this Toccata and Fugue:


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