Section 10.9 Suspension¶
Suspensions are accented non-chord tones occurring on downbeats. A suspension is approached by the same note and resolves down by step. A suspension is made up of a preparation, suspension, and resolution. Sometimes the preparation is tied to the suspension.
Suspensions are classified by numbers (9-8, 7-6, 4-3, 2-3, and sometimes 6-5) that specify the interval distance of the suspended note and its resolution to the bass note
In the example above, the notes in the 4-3 suspension are an 11th and 10th higher than the bass. Reduce all intervals larger than an octave to the numbers 7-6, 4-3, and 6-5.
Here is an example with a 4-3 suspension.
Here is an example with 7-6 and 9-8 suspensions.
The 2-3 suspension is the “bass suspension” and is measured against an upper voice. Again, you may encounter the literal intervals 10-9 but should label the suspension as 2-3.
When a chord is inverted, you will sometimes encounter non-standard suspension numbers like 5-4 or 3-2.
You will sometimes encounter decorations of suspensions where other notes occur before the resolution, as in the following example.
The “ret.” in the tenor part in the second measure is a retardation, which is covered in the next section.