The figure 4-3 shows a suspension of a 4th within a root position chord. The 4th then resolves downwards to the 3rd.
When you are realising a figured bass, you need to remember that the suspension note (the 4th) needs to be prepared in the previous chord. This means the same note needs to appear in the same part (unless this is impossible to do).
At grade 8, you also need to be able to write suspensions in 3-part harmony. In a 4-3 suspension, the “other” note which is in the chord above the figure 4 will normally need to be the 5th of the triad. In this example, F is first prepared in an F major chord, then suspended into a C major chord. The bass is the root note C, and the other part has the 5th, G. F then resolves to E.
The figure 9-8 shows a suspension of a 9th, (or compound 2nd) above a root position chord. The 9th resolves downwards to the 8th (octave).
As with the 4-3 suspension, this figure is often found on a single bass note:
We need to write a root position chord of G major, but instead of doubling the root (G), we substitute the 9th (A) above the figure 9. This note then moves to the root (G) above the figure 8. The A is the suspended note, and the doubled G is its resolution.
Here are two possible ways the chords could be realised:
As with all suspensions, the suspended note must be prepared in the previous chord, in the same part.
In this example, the suspension note is A, resolving to G. The A is prepared in the soprano part of the previous Dm chord:
In all suspensions it is best not to double the resolution note in any of the other parts (apart from the bass) during the suspension. This realisation is incorrect, because the resolution note G is doubled in the tenor part, as well as being the resolution note in the alto part:
In 3-part harmony, the “other” note used above the 9 is the 3rd of the triad (otherwise the chord will be missing its 3rd). In this example, the note A is prepared in an F major chord, then suspended into a G major chord, where it becomes the 9th above the bass. The other part has B, the third of the G major chord. A then resolves downwards to G.
The figure 7-6 normally shows a suspension of a 7th above a first inversion chord. The 7th resolves downwards to the 6th, which is the root of the chord.
Above the 7, we need to write a first inversion chord of D minor, but instead of including the root (D, which is a 6th above the bass), we substitute the E (7th above the bass). This note then moves to the 6th (D) above the figure 6. The E is the suspended note, and the D is its resolution.
Here are two possible ways the chords could be realised in 4-part harmony.
The suspension must be prepared in the previous chord in the same part. In this example, the suspension note is E, resolving to D. The E is prepared in the soprano part of the previous Am chord:
It is important not to double the resolution note in any of the other parts during the suspension. The following realisation is incorrect, because the resolution note D is doubled in the soprano part, as well as being the resolution note in the tenor part:
In 3-part harmony, the “other” note to use will be the 5th of the triad (we already have a 3rd in the bass, and the suspension note is the root). In this example, the note E is prepared in a chord of A minor, then suspended into a chord of D minor. The other note in the D minor chord is A, the 5th of the triad. The E then resolves downwards to D (the root of the triad).