Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 4.djvu/21

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
There was a problem when proofreading this page.
SUSPENSION.
5
SUSPENSION.

time it was used very sparingly, and composers required no more than the least dissonant forms to carry out their purposes. For a long while, moreover, all discords appeared to the early writers as no more than artificial manipulations of the motion of the parts of this kind, and it was only by the use of such means that they even learnt to use some discords, which are at the present day looked upon in a totally different light. About the beginning of the 17th century they began to realise that there was a radical difference in the character and constitution of certain groups of discords, and to use at least one freely as an independent or fundamental combination. From that time discords began to be classified, instinctively, into definite groups. Certain of the less dissonant combinations have in course of time been grouped into a special class, which is freed from the obligation of being prepared, and thereby loses one of the most essential characteristics of suspension. These are the Dominant discords of the minor seventh and major and minor ninths; certain corresponding chromatic chords on Tonic and Supertonic roots, which have been naturally affiliated upon the key; and the chord sometimes known as that of the added sixth. Another class has been created by some theorists, which is much more intimately connected with the class of suspensions; if indeed they are not actually suspensions slightly disguised. These are the discords which are arrived at by the same process of staying or suspending the motion of a part, but which are distinguished by further motion of the other parts simultaneously with the resolution of the discord, thereby condensing two motions into one; as in (d) and (e). When treated in this manner the chords are described by some theorists as 'Prepared discords.' The province of suspensions

(d)

(e)

appears by this process to have been reduced, but what was lost by the process of classification has been amply made up by the invention of a great variety of new forms.

About the time that composers first began to realise the character of the dominant seventh, they also began to use a greater variety and a harsher description of suspensions. The earliest experiments of note in both directions are commonly ascribed to the same man, namely Monteverde. Since his time the progress has been tolerably constant in one direction; for the tendency to look for fresh and more vivid points of contrast necessarily leads to the use of suspensions of more complicated and harsher character. At the present time the varieties of possible suspensions are so numerous that it would be almost as absurd to endeavour to make a catalogue of them, as it would be to make a list of possible combinations of sounds. But if the principle be properly understood, it is not necessary to give more than illustrative examples; for the like rules apply to all; and their kinds are only limited by the degree of harshness considered admissible, and by the possibility of adequate and intelligible resolution. Classical authority not only exists for a great variety of chromatic suspensions, often derived from no stronger basis than a combination of chromatic passing or ornamental notes; but also for remarkable degrees of dissonance. Beethoven for instance, in the B♭ Quartet, op. 130, used the suspended fourth together with the third on which it is to resolve, and put the latter at the top, and the former at the bottom (f); and Bach supplies many examples of similar character. Certain simple rules

(f)

are almost invariably observed—such as that the moment of percussion shall fall upon the strong beat of the bar; and that the progression shall not imply a violation of rules against consecutive perfect concords, which would occur if the artificial suspension of the part were removed, as in (g).

Composers early discovered a means of varying the character of the process by interpolating notes between the sounding of the discord and its resolution, as in (h). Instances are also to

(g) (h)


be found in which some such forms were used as sufficient to constitute resolution without arriving at the normal note,—habit and familiarity with a particular form of motion leading to the acceptance of a conventional formula in place of the actual solution. The following examples from Corelli's 1st Sonata of opera 2da and 5th of opera 4ta are clear illustrations.

(k) (l)


This particular device is characteristic rather of the early period of harmonic music up to Corelli's time than of a later period. The following passage from Schumann's variations for two piano-