[Smt-talk] Uncommon six-four chords

Dmitri Tymoczko dmitri at princeton.edu
Thu Feb 2 17:40:33 PST 2012

On Feb 1, 2012, at 10:23 AM, Solomon, Jason wrote:

> I am seeking examples (from any style or time period, but preferably from the common practice) of ii6/4 serving as a passing chord between V and V6, with or without the seventh added either to ii (ii4/3) or to one or both dominants. (I’m not particularly interested in V4/3 of V.) I am assuming that this progression is nonexistent in minor because of the +2 that would occur in the bass; however, I wouldn’t be shocked to find something like: V - iio6/4 - v6 - V6.
> I am also looking for instances of the leading-tone triad serving as a neighbor (or, pedal) six-four to IV: IV -  viio6/4 - IV. Here, I am primarily interested in either the leading-tone triad alone or one with a m7 added to produce the diatonic, half-diminished LT7. (The fully-diminished LT7 in this context could be analyzed as a common-tone diminished seventh chord, and I have plenty of examples of this).

Hi Jason,

I don't think your progressions appear in the Mozart piano sonatas.  (Disclaimer: I haven't checked all the variant readings in my corpus, and there could always be mistakes, but on a quick search I come up empty.)

In the Bach chorales, I find one instance.  You can make a case that there's a V7-ii4/3-V6 progression in Bach's Chorale 270 (Riemenschneider ed.), measure 1, beats 2-3.  In fact, in the pre-Riemenschneider editions (such as can be found on IMSLP) this is the most sensible reading, since the flute part is omitted.  Note the descending seventh leap in the bass.
	Adding the flute (as Riemenschneider does) complicates the story, however.  Reading a V chord on beat 2 requires treating the flute E as a quarter-note passing tone straddling two beats (an "EQE passing tone" as I call it).  These definitely do exist in the chorales but they are quite rare.  A better reading, perhaps, is that there is an ascending 5-6 sequence using sevenths: from beat 1, IVmaj7-ii6/5-V7-iii6/5-ii4/3-V6.  This is again somewhat rare -- the descending third progression moves just one note -- but you do find similar things elsewhere.

With reference to your aside, composers will occasionally move from iv6 to V6 in minor -- typically, they leap down the d7 instead of moving up the A2.  So you can find a i - iv6 - V6 progression in the first measure of Riemenschneider Chorale #236 (which reappears almost exactly as 295).  Note that the bass would be doubled an octave below, so the crossing wouldn't affect matters.  See also Chorale 107, penultimate phrase, in C minor, where the bass moves E-F-G-Ab-B-C, supporting iv6-V6-i at the end.  (It's a little unclear whether you want to count the i6/4 over the G as a genuine chord, here -- it could go either way.)

Hope that helps!  I have to admit that I'm curious why you're collecting these examples ...


Dmitri Tymoczko
Associate Professor of Music
310 Woolworth Center
Princeton, NJ 08544-1007
(609) 258-4255 (ph), (609) 258-6793 (fax)

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