Irregular resolution

Irregular resolution Type I  Play . Two common tones, two note moves by half step motion.
Irregular resolution through augmented sixth equivalence  Play .[1] One common tone, three notes move by half step motion.

In music, an irregular resolution is resolution by a dominant seventh chord or diminished seventh chord to a chord other than the tonic. Regarding the dominant seventh, there are many irregular resolutions including to a chord with which it has tones in common or if the parts move only a whole or half step.[2] Consecutive fifths and octaves, augmented intervals, and false relations should still be avoided.[2] Voice leading may cause the seventh to ascend, to be prolonged into the next chord, or to be unresolved.[3]

The following resolutions to a chord with tones in common have been identified:

Regular resolution  Play . One common tone, two notes moves by half step motion, and one note moves by whole step motion.

Type I is common from the 18th century; Type II may be found from the second quarter of the 19th century; Type III may be found from the mid-19th century. The composer Richard Edward Wilson is responsible for the categorization.

The most important irregular resolution is the deceptive cadence,[3] most commonly V7-vi in major or V7-VI in minor.[1][3] Irregular resolutions also include V7 becoming A6 [specifically a German sixth] through enharmonic equivalence[1] or in other words (and the adjacent image) resolving to the I chord in the key the augmented sixth chord (FACD) would be in (A) rather than the key the dominant seventh (FACE) would be in (B).

See also


  1. 1 2 3 Owen, Harold (2000). Music Theory Resource Book, p.132. ISBN 0-19-511539-2.
  2. 1 2 Chadwick, George Whitefield (2008). Harmony, a Course of Study, p.160. ISBN 0-559-22020-0.
  3. 1 2 3 Foote, Arthur (2007). Modern Harmony in its Theory and Practice, p.93ff. ISBN 1-4067-3814-X.
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