5.4 The Neighboring V6

Muzio Clementi (1752-1832),
piano pedagogue

The third movement of Muzio Clementi's Op.36 No.2, above, goes back and forth between I and V6. The first inversion dominant here is called a neighbor chord after the bass F# which is a lower neighbor to the G in the odd numbered measures. The repeated returns to the tonic triad from the less stable dominant have the effect of expanding the initial tonic.

The four part setting to the left shows two good options for voice leading with a neighboring V6. In the top phrase scale degree 3 (G-sharp) falls to a lower neighbor (F-sharp, in red), while scale degree 1 (E) rises to an upper neighbor (also F-sharp). The second phrase is identical except scale degree 3 skips up a third doubling the root (B, also in red).

A common mistake when voicing V6 is to double the leading tone. Not only do parallel octaves usually result, but this doubling also violates the general rule that the leading tone should never be doubled. Scale degree 7 is such a strong tendency tone that two of them sounded simultaneously stand out offensively.

One reason for this error may be that until now, with the exception of V - vi progressions, it has been safe to double the bass, resulting in all chord tones being represented in upper voices. An unfortunate habit may therefore develop to check that in fact every chord tone does appear in some upper voice. However with V6, this habit is a pitfall which results in a bad doubling.
Another common mistake concerning V6 occurs during harmonic dictations. When scale degree 7 is in the bass do not write vii° under the chord. Diminished triads such as vii° are never in root position in this style because the tritone, between scale degree 4 and the bass's leading tone, sounds harsh. Given the chords used so far on these pages, if the leading tone is in the bass then triad above it must be V6.

The following example of neighboring V6's is from Schumann's, Kinderszenen, op. 15 no. 12, "Kind im Einschlummern"

Comments? Click here.