Musical Composition, Theory and Songwriting/Suspended cadence


Hello. Recently I listened to Hayden's Symphony no 31-"Horn Signal".
in the 4th movement he used what appears to be a suspended cadence to end a phrase. It recurs throughout this movement to end this phrase. I tried to play it by ear on the piano but can't quite make it out.

It sounds like to my ear at the end of the phrase ,the melody (played by the oboe i.e.)goes from-(transposing to the key of C to simplify the cadence- )-goes from F down to B and the B repeated on the beat a half note resolving a semi-tone to C [a quarter-note]whereas the CHORD on the first beat(landing with the B) is a C major chord:I'll try to demonstrate it this way:
F E D C B [bar-line] B    C
C MAJOR??          C major....I don't think that I got it right, but this is to illustrate the cadence in question.
Please enlighten me what Hayden used to end this phrase. Thanks!


Hi Alex,

I have downloaded the score of Haydn Symphony no 31. You can download it yourself if you go to this link:,_Hob.I:31_%28Haydn,_Joseph%29

The 4th movement is a Theme and Variations and the phrase you describe occurs in Variation 1 in the final measures of the variation. It also occurs 8 measures later but because of the repeats, the phrase is heard four times.

The first time this occurs is in the 8th measure of the 1st variation when 2 oboes are used. (This 8-measure section is repeated.) The movement is in D major, so I think we'd better stay in that key rather than transpose into C. In the 8th bar the 1st oboe plays the notes G# (quarter note) to A (eighth note). The G# indicates clearly that this is a brief modulation to A major, which is a conventional pattern in Haydn's time. There's a G# in the bar before too so, yes you're right, this is a suspension here even though a tie is not used.

At the same time, the 2nd oboe plays the notes B (quarter note) - A (eighth note) and the note B occurs in the bar before the cadence, so it's also suspended. When two notes are suspended in this way it is sometimes called a double suspension. So if you want to describe the event in words, we could say that there is a brief modulation to A major consisting of a perfect cadence with a double suspension on the dominant chord. But heavens, what a mouthful!

Here's something interesting. During these two measure the 2nd oboe plays a third above the first oboe. So actually, the second oboe has the melody for these two measures. Why Haydn did this is anyone's guess because it is unusual. There must have been a reason and it may have something to do with the orchestra for which Haydn wrote.

The second time the phrase occurs is 8 bars later (repeated) and this time Haydn writes the first oboe above the second oboe, which is the usual practice. However, this time he stays in D major using the notes C# (quarter note)- D (eighth note) with the second oboe playing a sixth below. This indeed is another double suspension and is a perfect cadence in D major.

I'd recommend that you download the score (free) from the link above because it takes only a matter of seconds if you have a fast connection. Then you can study the section yourself.

I hope this clears it up for you, even though my response is a bit long-winded. Feel free to get back to me if necessary. My email address is doctorcolin(at)csloxinfo(dot)com.

Best wishes


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Dr Colin


I can answer questions from students of "classical" composing, arranging, notation problems and music theory, writing for instruments and voice and writing music for education. I can answer questions about orchestration but I do not cover questions about pop or rock music, pop song writing or electronic music.

I taught for many years in UK up to "A" level theory and composition. I have spent many years in music education, initially (like everyone else) as a teacher. Then I moved on to advisory work (teaching teachers!) and also lectured, giving many workshops for teachers in developing music education skills and techniques. For a time I worked as a teacher-lecturer at London University's Institute of Education and eventually worked full-time as a Music Education Adviser to schools in part of London, offering advice on music education and curriculum development.


I started composing music at the age 14 (it was mostly rubbish, since you asked) and now have a large number of compositions to credit as well as many publications, especially for instrumental music and choral music. I have also written several acclaimed works for large orchestra and choir. My work has been published particularly in the UK (under different names)(notably by Boosey & Hawkes, Novello, and Schott) but also in the USA and the Netherlands.

My music for elementary players (several publications) has been performed and broadcast worldwide. I am now retired from my previous job as Music Education Adviser. These days I spend most of my time composing and arranging. I am currently working on instrumental arrangements of world national anthems for my National Anthems website and also completing a suite of very easy piano solos and duets for elementary players. For many years I have used the music program "Finale" for all my music writing activities.

International Society for Music Education; Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

"The Times" Educational Supplement; "Hi-Fi News and Record Review". For several years, I used to write for many of the state music education periodicals in the US and I also wrote several influential articles on instrumental music teaching for "Music Teacher" magazine in the UK. (UK).

PhD(Hons); MA(Hons); FLCM (compositon) ARCM, LMusTCL,(music diplomas)

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