If you’re a musician, you may have come across the term “suspension” in music theory. A suspension is a specific type of non-chord tone that can add interest and tension to your compositions. In this article, we’ll explore what a suspension is and how to use it effectively in your music.
What is a Suspension?
A suspension occurs when a note from the previous chord is held over into the next chord, creating dissonance until it resolves to a chord tone. This means that the suspended note clashes with the new chord until it falls onto a note that belongs to the new harmony. Suspensions are usually found in melodies but can also be used in harmonies.
Types of Suspensions
There are several different types of suspensions that you can use in your music. The most common ones are:
- 4-3 Suspension: This occurs when a note from the previous chord, usually the fourth scale degree, is held over into the next chord and then resolves down by step to the third scale degree.
- 9-8 Suspension: This occurs when a note from the previous chord, usually the ninth scale degree, is held over into the next chord and then resolves down by step to the eighth scale degree.
- 7-6 Suspension: This occurs when a note from the previous chord, usually the seventh scale degree, is held over into the next chord and then resolves down by step to sixth scale degree.
How to Use Suspensions
Now that we’ve covered what suspensions are and their types let’s talk about how you can use them effectively in your compositions.
The most important thing to remember when using suspensions is that they create tension. The longer you hold onto a suspended note, the more tension you will create. So, if you want to create a sense of resolution or release, you should resolve the suspension quickly.
Another important thing to remember is that suspensions work best when they are used sparingly. If you use too many suspensions in your compositions, they will lose their impact and become less effective.
Examples of Suspensions in Music
Let’s look at some examples of suspensions in music:
- In Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Prelude in C Major” from the Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, there is a 4-3 suspension in measure 7 that creates tension before resolving to the third scale degree in measure 8.
- In Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 16 in C Major, K. 545, there is a 9-8 suspension in the second movement that creates tension before resolving to the eighth scale degree.
- In Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, there is a famous 7-6 suspension at the beginning of the final movement that creates tension before resolving to the sixth scale degree.
Suspensions are an important tool for creating tension and interest in your music. By using them sparingly and resolving them quickly, you can add depth and complexity to your compositions. So go ahead and experiment with suspensions – you might just discover a new sound or style that sets your music apart!