Create Tension with Anticipation and Suspension

     In this post I will be making music using the techniques and music theory concepts that you can find in the Beyond Music Theory Blog. My goal is to show you ways in which you can put this knowledge into practice and be creative with it, which is what music is all about! Whatever the genre, feel free to experiment with this concept and apply it to your music.

     This time I will be composing a small music piece using anticipation and suspensions. You can read more about it in this post, but this technique can be used as means to create, release, prolong and even preparing the harmonic tension that ensues while you are going from chord to chord. It is a way of creating harmonic interest and depth. Typically, the effect can be found at the end of phrases or in cadences, but you don’t have to feel restricted by this, as you will hear.

     First, I created the main melody and harmonized it. The approach I used was to take create the framework that represented the harmonic feel and direction I wanted by harmonizing the strong beats. Then, on a second pass, I filled in with other chords, increasing the harmonic rhythm where I felt necessary – mostly to support the melodic cues.

I introduced the suspensions and anticipations after the harmonization process where I could hear and test its effect in specific parts of the music. Below you will see examples of how I used them – chords with melody on top:

Suspension resolving downwards (in green), and in the same bar there is an anticipation (in red)

An anticipation that helps to prepare the modulation

In the final cadence, we can see the anticipation of the C# in the bass, the suspension resolving downwards and in blue, a retardation – similar to suspension but resolves upwards

     There are other examples throughout the music that helped me to create tension in some passages but the ones I showed you are representative of some of the contexts where this technique can be used. I made an arrangement for a string quartet and below you will find the audio of how the music turned out. If you prefer, you can also check out the video to follow the score.

     I hope that this technique inspires you in your own work. Although I took this arrangement approach, don’t let it put you off as this can be applied to whatever genre you are into. It’s just that I felt like doing something like this. Remember to always leave room for experimentation! Please leave a comment below or even share the music that you made using this technique.

     Happy Composing!

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