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victoria Williams Music Theory

Victoria Williams

LmusTCL BA Mus (Hons) MISM

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7. Suspensions in Trio Sonatas

Grade 8 Music Theory - Suspensions in Trio Sonatas

Suspensions are most often formed with the figure 4-3, 9-8 or 7-6. The 7-6 suspension happens when a first inversion chord is used.

maniculeThe crucial thing to remember about suspensions is that they must be prepared in the previous chord of the same part, and they must resolve (be quitted) by step.

In the following extract, two suspensions are hooked together:



In the 7-6 suspension, the C is prepared in the previous bar, suspended as 7, and resolves to Bb as 6.

The same Bb then functions as the preparation for the next suspension as 4, which then resolves to A as 3.


Suspensions are always notated with a small dash between the suspended note and the resolution note.


Don’t anticipate the resolution note! The note of resolution should not also be written into the other part. Suspensions sound good because the ear is waiting for the resolution note to happen – if it can already be heard in another part, the effect of the resolution will be spoiled.

For example, in this case, the resolution note is Bb, and it’s in the middle part. This means that the note Bb is not a possibility for the space in the box on the top stave. G or D would be fine.

suspensions resolution already


Suspensions can be decorated. In example A, the resolution has been decorated with an auxiliary note. In example B, the suspended note has been decorated with an auxiliary harmony note.

suspensions decorated



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