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SUSPENSIONS 3

Suspensions are a great way to get more out of any chords you know. This page explains suspensions and hosts the lesson notes for the various Musicarta suspensions videos.

The suspension riffs on these pages are 'generic' and demonstrate an aspect of music theory which is available to anyone. Any resemblance to any recorded music is entirely accidental.

Make sure you work through the pages in order. This is Page Three of the series - start with Page One.

 Suspensions in Thirds and Sixths (1)

You can apply the suspension-resolution technique to pairs of chord tones too, providing they’re harmonious pairs, like thirds and sixths. Watch this video.

The chord sequence here is a generic G–Em–Am–D (I–vi–ii–V) circle-of-fifths chord sequence, one step up from the entry-level I–vi–IV–V chord sequence.

Suspensions (as the name suggests) are pulled up, but you can also push chord tones down, like pushing a ball below the surface of a swimming pool, and let it pop back up.

On-the-beat suspensions are sometimes called 'accented (i.e. on the beat) non-chord tones'. Accented non-chord tones which are pulled down instead of up are sometimes called 'accented lower auxiliaries' (= the next note down).

The 'B section' of this AABA-form study has these ‘accented lower auxiliaries’.

Note they are all ‘chromatic’ too, that is, lowered just a semitone: F sharp in the C chord, G sharp in the D chord, A sharp in the E chord – all fifths lowered by a semitone.

The video is a three-layer cake, with hands at the bottom, the actual MidiPiano performance in the middle and then – most importantly – the harmonic fundamentals at the top.

Try to understand 'what’s-really-happening-before-all-the-finger-flapping'; it's knowing this that makes you a creator rather than just a performer.

 Suspensions in Thirds and Sixths (2)

Here's another study with suspensions in thirds and sixths. This is much more of a practice riff.

 Further studies

For more practice, transpose Exercise No.3 back into G major, and any and all of these exercises into other keys.

Listen out for suspensions in popular and classical music, and let your own melodies hit non-chord tones on the beat, resolving them up or down to a chord tone).

Take not however that knowing your underlining chord sequence inside out is essential for using creative theory skills like this.

Most of the Musicarta home-study courses incorporate suspension technique as a way of developing your chord vocabulary.

Musicarta has two piano solos featuring extensive 'accented non-chord tones'. Click through to Suspensions Page Four here.


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