Suspensions in music theory are a fundamental concept that is important to understand for any musician. A suspension occurs when a note from a previous chord is held over into the following chord, creating tension and resolution. This technique has been used by composers for centuries to add depth and emotion to their music.

The Basics of Suspensions

A suspension occurs when a note from one chord is held over into the next chord before resolving. The suspended note creates dissonance with the new chord, which creates tension that is then resolved when the suspended note resolves to a consonant note in the new chord.

Types of Suspensions

There are three types of suspensions: 4-3, 7-6, and 9-8. These refer to the intervals between the suspended note and the resolving note.

In a 4-3 suspension, the suspended note is a fourth above the resolving note and resolves down by step to a third above it. In a 7-6 suspension, the suspended note is a seventh above the resolving note and resolves down by step to a sixth above it. In a 9-8 suspension, the suspended note is a ninth above the resolving note and resolves down by step to an octave above it.

Notation

Suspensions are typically notated using numbers written above or below notes in sheet music. The number represents the interval between the suspended note and the resolving note. For example, if there is a 4 written above a quarter-note in sheet music, it means that this is a 4-3 suspension.

Examples of Suspensions in Music

One famous example of suspensions in music can be found in Bach’s Prelude in C Major from Book I of The Well-Tempered Clavier. In this piece, Bach uses several suspensions to create tension and resolution.

Another example can be found in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, where the famous “Ode to Joy” melody features a 9-8 suspension.

Conclusion

Suspensions are an essential part of music theory that have been used by composers for centuries to add depth and emotion to their music. Understanding how suspensions work and how they are notated can help musicians better appreciate and perform pieces that use this technique. So, practice applying suspensions in your compositions or improvisations and see how it adds more beauty to your music.