[Smt-talk] Passing and Neighboring 6/4s

Olli Väisälä ovaisala at siba.fi
Thu Jan 21 05:34:57 PST 2010


>> Interesting figures! But to the defence of Aldwell and Schachter,  
>> I would like to add that they also state that "a passing 6/4  
>> between IV6 and II6/5 (less often II6) is very frequent." (P. 311,  
>> emphasis original.)


> Yes, this is another error.  Here are the relevant counts,  
> including retrogrades:
> IV6 -> I6/4 -> IV: 23 times
> IV6 -> I6/4 -> ii6: 17 times
> IV6 -> I6/4 -> ii6/5: 11 times
> Aldwell and Schachter are wrong to say that, given IV6->I6/4->X,  
> ii6/5 is the most frequent value for X.  In Mozart piano sonatas,  
> it's actually the *least* likely value for X, trailing both IV and  
> ii6.

For what it's worth, I would like add another short note in defense  
of Aldwell & Schachter.

I spent an hour browsing through 42 Bach chorales and found 15  
passing 6/4s (with stepwise bass). (Spending time with Bach is never  

8 were between IV6 and II6/5; in two of these instances the II6/5 was  
inflected into V6/5 of V.
NONE was between IV6 and II6 or between IV6 and IV.

My sample is small, but it does suggest that Dmitri might have been a  
bit over-condifent in calling Aldwell and Schachter's statement an  
"error" on the basis of his Mozart count. At least, the statement  
would seem to hold good for Bach chorales (and I would guess for Bach  
in general).

Note that the above Aldwell & Schachter quote speaks nothing about  
IV6–I6/4–IV. Note also that they discuss a special type of this  
progression, IV6–I6/4–IV–I6 with double voice exchange (6^–5^  
exchanged with 4^–3^), in reference to Example 19-28, which,  
incidentally, is a Mozart example. I wonder whether this usage is  
represented in the 23 occurrences Dmitri mentions and, if so, how  


Some might also be interested to know what the remaining passing 6/4s  
were in my little choral sample:

1 between IV and II4/3
1 between II and V4/2
1 between VI and II6/5
1 between VI and IV (1^–2^ above VI, then 3^–4^)
1 between VII°6/5 and V6/5 (both of V)
2 between V2 and VII6.

The sample is small, but the variety of different usages suggests  
that the category of passing 6/4s has much more applicability than  
just for a couple of stock progressions.

Olli Väisälä
Sibelius Academy
ovaisala at siba.fi

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