Wikipedia talk:Requests for mediation/Inversion (music)

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Initial details[edit]

Taken from Wikipedia:Requests for mediation/Inversion (music), with modifications.

Involved parties[edit]

Also known as simply "parties" from now on.

Articles involved[edit]


  • Inclusion of the image
  • Creation of an alternative image

New mediator[edit]

Hi everyone. Firstly, may I appologise on behalf of the medation committee for the lack of continuity so far with this request for mediation. However, if all parties agree, I would like to take over as mediator here, so we can get the ball rolling again and attempt to resolve the issues here. I'm not on the mediation committee currently, but I am an administrator here and feel I have the ability to handle this dispute. It might be best if we re-start the mediation so we all know where we are going from the start. If I may ask all parties, do you agree with me taking over the mediation? Regard, Ryan Postlethwaite 21:41, 6 August 2007 (UTC)

I'm good. —Wahoofive (talk) 00:27, 7 August 2007 (UTC)
Fine with me. Thanks for taking the time to help with this. -- Myke Cuthbert (talk) 02:45, 7 August 2007 (UTC)
Sure, that would be good. - Rainwarrior 04:42, 8 August 2007 (UTC)
OK Tony 08:31, 10 August 2007 (UTC)

Initial statements[edit]

Thank you for accepting me as the mediator. Let's begin this mediation by all parties making an opening statement of the issues to be mediated and your reasons for seeing the dispute the way you do. Ryan Postlethwaite 17:08, 10 August 2007 (UTC)


This will be the third time mediation has involved initial statements in addition to the huge amount of argument on the talk pages of two articles and several participants. I've already set out in great detail the technical and encyclopedic reasons that the second figure (I 6/4) is highly misleading by itself, and why the attempt to rectify this in the adjacent main text was (i) inadequate per se, and (ii) fails to address the POV inherent in the notational illustration of one analytical method alone.

In summary, I propose that the matter be settled by negotiating the following changes to the article.

  1. The expansion of the initial explanation beyond its current superficial frame so that it locates the concept of chord inversion in relation to both the melodic and harmonic generation of 6/3 and 6/4 positions. This is established knowledge (e.g., Aldwell and Schachter), and should ideally be illustrated by notational examples of both ways in which these positions can arise.
  2. The recasting of the subsequent explanations of the three triadic positions so that they follow the new opening smoothly and logically.
  3. The treatment of 7th-chord positions logically and subsequently, rather than the current jumbled treatment that suddenly starts with the third inversion, and, confusingly for most readers, bundles 9th chords with 7th chords.
  4. A proper explanation in the main text of both ways of notating the cadential 6/4, including, briefly, their conceptual and historical bases.
  5. Either the removal of the disputed figure or the posting next to it of a matching figure with V 6/4 rather than I 6/4, to illustrate the explanation of both ways of notating the cadential 6/4.
  6. The copy-editing of the remainder of the article, which is written in an inconsistent tone and contains many linguistic errors and breaches of MOS.

In addition, the daughter article for the section in question—Voicing (music)—is in a parlous state and will need to be reconstructed in a way that is consistent with this section.

Tony 11:10, 11 August 2007 (UTC)


To me this dispute was simply about the usage of the symbol I 6/4 versus V 6/4-5/3 as an analytical figure for a certain common musical construction. I think Tony1 asks for too much to either place an opposing image alongside (another near-identical diagram will not benefit the reader, see next paragraph), or removal of the image (this would be detrimental). Currently in the text of the article, right next to the image, both symbols are mentioned. Both symbols are quite valid, and there is a great deal of literature that uses one or the other. I wish the I 6/4 to be spoken for because of this. I want the article to use and acknowledge the same symbols the reader would find in music theory literature.

I originally chose I 6/4 for this diagram because I was specifically trying to illustrate the use of a chord in 6/4 inversion. The V 6/4-5/3 alternative I believe would be confusing here because here V 6/4 is not the chord type, the chord type with that symbol is V 5/3 with a 6/4 suspension carried from the previous chord. The topic of a musical suspension, or of the six-four-cadence itself, are worthy of their own discussions (and their own articles), and V 6/4-5/3 is a fine symbol for the purposes of explaining those ideas. The idea at hand, however, is inversion, and I think too much digression about the exceptional meaning of this particular symbol would get in the way. The article should explain inversion, and not waste words and confuse the reader by apologizing for using one symbol or another.

- Rainwarrior 18:26, 12 August 2007 (UTC)

Michael Cuthbert[edit]

There's a particular chord which is common throughout Western music (esp. classical, but also Jazz, Rock, etc.) which is (to simplify) often found as the third-to-last chord of a piece. For now, let's call that chord the "cadential six-four" which is a term I think Tony and the three of us would agree is an acceptable name. However, a problem comes with the abbreviation used to represent this chord in context (unfortunately, the use of abbreviations for chords is completely pervasive in music theory, so "don't abbreviate" isn't going to work as a solution). The traditional abbreviation, used universally until around 1930 was I64--which means that the chord is the second inversion of the I or tonic chord. After 1930 and especially after 1950 or 1960, a second way of thinking of this chord gained traction. In this way of thinking, the chord isn't really an independent chord at all, and is especially not a second inversion, but is instead an embellishment of the following chord called V and thus this is V64. In the 1970s and 1980s, this was a big point of dispute in academic circles, but since the 1990s, there's basically been a truce with two camps calling the chord what they like: either I64 or V64.

The inclusion or not of the image is part of a wider dispute that some editors have been having on whether to present both sides of the I64/V64 divide (RW/WH5/MSC & Noetica) or just V64 (Tony1). My research indicates that textbook writers are about evenly divided between using I64 (3 of 5) or V64 (2 of 5) but all but one (I64) writer spends at least a sentence on the merits of the other system. In general, I don't care whether a particular mention of the chord uses I64 or V64 so long as we don't privilege one side of the debate over the other.

Tony has suggested that the usage of academic textbooks is irrelevant to the discussion because they are written by "medicore fools". I don't think it's our place (or certainly not the place of a single editor against consensus) to decide which widely used textbooks are written by fools and which aren't.

In the particular case of the image on Inversion (music), it seems like I64 should be used for examples, since I64 implies that the chord is in inversion (the topic of the article) while V64 denies that the chord is inverted. Using V64 notation thus does not illustrate inversion.

I've been working on a history of the six-four chord and current debates about its usage, but I don't think I'll put it up until these disputes are resolved. If it matters to anyone, I personally use V64 in most of my teaching and academic publications, but I don't see I64 as misguided or a fringe view at all. Best, -- -- Myke Cuthbert (talk) 20:55, 12 August 2007 (UTC)


I have little to add to the above. This is a dispute not about the facts, about which we agree 99%, but about the symbols used to denote those facts. I think it's perfectly possible for us to avoid this whole conflict by (a) including an enhanced explanation about the notations and the functional interpretations of the 6/4 chord; and (b) eliminating all labels from the illustrations and simply highlighting the second-inversion chord with a colored box or something. We've already put ten times as much effort into the talk page as we have into the article; what a waste of effort. Tony's points (3) and (6) are certainly well taken, but I admit that I have no idea what (1) means. —Wahoofive (talk) 21:29, 18 August 2007 (UTC)


Thanks guys for the patience with this, I can understand that you must all be frustrated with how things have moved in the past. So to begin this, let's discuss the use of I64 and V64. I quote Michael Cuthbert here, "In the 1970s and 1980s, this was a big point of dispute in academic circles, but since the 1990s, there's basically been a truce with two camps calling the chord what they like: either I64 or V64." - Would there be a way that discussion of this point could be made in the article to highlight the fact that these terms are disputed between different parties? This could elaborate on the current wording and be informative to the reader as to why the two terms are used. Ryan Postlethwaite 22:00, 19 August 2007 (UTC)


Would parties involved be willing to accept an alternative, new image that is a compromise between all parties? Ryan Postlethwaite 22:00, 19 August 2007 (UTC)

Responses to Ryan's suggestions[edit]

A composite image with both analytical explanations (V and I) vertically aligned would be unclear and awkward. A "double" example, in which the music and analytical notations are displayed twice, using "I" and "V", plus a caption that explains each briefly, would be acceptable. The caption would need to state that the framing of the 6/4 as an inversion (as indicated in the use of "I") is disputed.

However, I would accept the current image alone if (1) the caption clearly labled it as the disputed framing of a 6/4 chord as a second inversion, and (2) the accompanying main text provided a brief explanation of the issue (Cuthbert has done as much here; the current attempt in the main text is unacceptable), and (3) the opening of the article were rewritten to explain how and why 6/3 and 6/4 positions are not always considered to be inversions (preferably providing illustrations of the harmonic and melodic generation of those positions, respectively). Tony 01:25, 20 August 2007 (UTC)

PS I should add that I disagree with Wahoo that the symbols are somehow different from the facts. Using I 6/4 says that the root is C and that the chord is inverted; using V 6/4 indicates that the root is G, and the C and E above it arise from voice leading, not harmony. The two "symbols", as he puts it, indicate completely different ways of understanding the relationship between harmony and voice leading (i.e., facts). I agree that the cadential 6/4 is only relevant to an article on inversion if it cites the widely (mis)understood chord I. If it does, this should be clearly contextualised historically and conceptually alongside the understanding of the role of voice leading in the cadential 6/4 (i.e., V 6/4). Tony 06:58, 20 August 2007 (UTC)

Hi -- I've been away from Internet for a week and need to get caught up on a number of things, but I wanted to quickly say it seems like we've had some good progress made (if for no other reason than the 4 of us + several mediators are probably sick of talking and want to get back to other things! :). I think that the brief explanation of the issue is fine to add to the "inversion" article and should be there and in several other articles where we use I 6/4 or V 6/4 terminology. I can agree to all three of Tony's points--in fact, I wouldn't be compromising to accept them but believe that each of them will improve the article. There are three points regarding this (chord|melodic embellishment) that I think if we agreed to would make editing together productive (fun again even?): (1) WP should acknowledge that there's controversy among experts. (2) The two symbols are not just different ways of saying the same thing (Tony's excellent point), so we should have a short explanation of both their meanings when one is used, possibly linking to a longer explanation under "Inversion (music)" or a future "six-four" article. And (3) WP does not endorse one symbol or the other other as officially correct, though one may be more appropriate than the other in certain circumstances (certainly I'd change I 6/4-V to V 6/4-5/3 in an article on "Urline"). I hope we can keep working together on this point. Should we create a sandbox for Inversion to try to fix the three issues Tony has mentioned, or could we even move it to unprotected but try out our edits here on each other before we put them in? -- Myke Cuthbert (talk) 17:34, 20 August 2007 (UTC)
It may be a good idea to create a sandbox within the mediation to try and work through the section on "Notations for inverted chords." Wikipedia talk:Requests for mediation/Inversion (music)/Sandbox would probably be a good location for it. It seems clear here that there is consensus for the point that the actual notation used is in dispute - so it may be a good idea to try and get some sources so this point can be discussed within the article from a neutral perspective. Ryan Postlethwaite 21:59, 20 August 2007 (UTC)
I'd like to clarify the point referred to by Tony's PS, not because I think it's terribly important, but because I'm trying to develop points of consensus which can lead to a harmonious solution. The reason the two "expert" camps can't agree on which symbol to use in this case is that both symbols are wrong. The I64 symbol is wrong because the chord doesn't have the stability or function of a tonic triad. The V64 symbol is wrong because the notes of the dominant chord aren't present (especially if it's not in the cadential situation), which is what the Roman numeral means in every other context. It's a chord which Roman-numeral analysis doesn't handle very well. Experts (actually pedagogues) don't agree on which symbol to use only because they don't agree which wrong symbol is less misleading. The field would be much better served if we had some kind of new, hybrid symbol to express this situation. But we don't, and we can't invent one on WP. All we can do is explain the problem and try to avoid any symbol. Please let me know if you others, especially Tony, generally agree with this explanation of the situation. —Wahoofive (talk) 21:44, 20 August 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for your points here, I've noted just above that the fact that there is a dispute now seems clear - and your suggestion that we simply avoid using either symbol is a valid point - and may lead to an extra section on the article as to why the symbols are in dispute along with explanation as to why both are wrong in the inversion sense. Ryan Postlethwaite 22:02, 20 August 2007 (UTC)
I don't agree that V is "wrong", nor that a "hybrid" symbol is desirable—that would be to give oxygen to single-chord fanatics. For a root to pertain (V in this case), it is not necessary that all members of its triad be sounded throughout the chord. Otherwise, suspensions, and passing and neighbour tones, would render the root invalid. This is a basic concept that needs to be explicated at the top of the article. Tony 05:59, 21 August 2007 (UTC) PS Unsure what Mediator means by "avoid using either symbol", and "both are wrong in in an inversion sense". Grateful for process-related input by the Mediator.
Ah, sorry - what I meant by avoiding using either symbol was that the paragraph in question could avoid using either I64 or V64 as the correct version to use - this way neither would be supported over the other. I was under the impression that all parties agreed that neither V64 or I64 were the completely correct versions to use - but per Tony's last comment, I see this certainly isn't agreed upon. It may now be an idea to concentrate soley on how V64 and I64 should be discussed in the article. Should there be a short discussion on the conflicting sides views? Should one be preferred over the other? Should any be used at all? Ryan Postlethwaite 16:34, 21 August 2007 (UTC)
I'm the only one with the pathological hate of I 6/4, which I regard as a dangerous infection. RW and Cuth, I think, understand the issues, but are not as concerned as I am to ensure that visitors with this infection are made aware of the issues. I'm not convinced that Wahoo has a good understanding of the issues, although I may be wrong. In any case, I suspect/hope that we're arriving at a course of action that everyone can live with. May I suggest that I present in a sandbox a new opening that deals with the harmonic vs linear generation of positions, and that clearly defines "inversion" as harmonically generated? Then we can discuss it and change as necessary on the basis of feedback. I suggest that this negotiation be conducted as part of the mediation process. I have no time until this weekend do this quite difficult writing job. Tony 02:48, 22 August 2007 (UTC)
I don't think either is incorrect, and omitting the proper symbols does not do the reader any good. I do think an explanation of the difference between these symbols is warranted, but I don't think this particular article is the place for it. We should have a cadential six-four article and discuss it there. This matter of which symbol to use is a bit removed from the concept of inversion, and I'd rather keep the explanation concise and relevant, and give them a link to follow up on if they want to know more, rather than cloud the issue with this tangential argument. - Rainwarrior 04:10, 22 August 2007 (UTC)
If you want to use the cadential 6/4 as an example of a chord position that has been classified by some people as second inversion, I'm afraid that this will have to be explained in this article. A link is not sufficient. Tony 15:32, 22 August 2007 (UTC)
Well, right now it does have an explanation, and what I'd like to see is more or less that and a new article which it would link to there. You said there was something you didn't like about the explanation that is there but you didn't make any edits to it (you just flagged it as "factually inaccurate" and/or removed the image). I don't think the article should say much more than it does already about this; a sentence or two I think is the right amount. - Rainwarrior 05:24, 23 August 2007 (UTC)
  • (Outdent) An article on chord inversion should properly deal with the issue of position versus inversion. In that respect, the matter of harmonic versus linear generation of position needs to be explained at the top of the article: it's basic to a conceptual understanding of inversion. Tony 06:19, 23 August 2007 (UTC)

What does a Roman numeral plus a figured bass symbol mean?[edit]

If I have a ii6 chord, that is a supertonic chord in first inversion, and there's also a 7-6 suspension, would you label the initial sonority ii7? I sure wouldn't, because that means a root-position seventh chord based on ii. Similarly, the symbol V64 by itself means a V chord in second inversion, with its fifth in the bass. Now I realize that a few textbooks would use something like ii7—6 to indicate this, and similarly you could have V6—54—3 (you know what I mean) to indicate the cadential progression we're discussing, but V64 by itself doesn't mean that, and not all textbooks allow such a combination.

Furthermore, in an article on chord inversion we're not going to restrict ourselves to cadential 6/4s, I presume. Doesn't Tony's objection to the 6/4 notation extend to passing 6/4s and the like? We can't just restrict our solution to some Cadential six-four article, because it goes beyond that. —Wahoofive (talk) 03:45, 24 August 2007 (UTC)

Ah, that makes sense. Maybe this article is the appropriate place to discuss the notational argument. What would you think of putting the explanation somewhere else though, away from the initial exposition? Maybe put the discussion in its own section of the article, and keep the initial commentary down to the one or two sentences we've got (potentially revised) with a "see below". - Rainwarrior 05:19, 24 August 2007 (UTC)

[Edit conflict] Well, yes, you do label it "7". ii 7/3, with the 7 en-dashed to a 6 (there's no need to repeat the 3 underneath—that's assumed). This goes to the kernel of the problem we're debating on this page: first and second inversions can't always be analysed in direct correlation with the occurrence of a 6th and a 3rd—or a 6th and a 4th—above them: parts often move around within a chord—to and from the triadic notes—without threatening the validity of the root, either aurally or theoretically. So even though the first arabic numerals you read in the example you raised are 7/3, it's still a first inversion. The listener has to wait for it to collapse; the seventh owes its existence entirely to the fact that it's a foreign note to the triad, and moves urgently to the 6th because the chord-space is governed entirely by the supertonic.
Passing 6/4s, many theorists would assert, lack a sense of root; so a 6/4 sandwiched between I and I6 might comprise GBD, but doesn't imply a root movement of I–V–I (rather, just an elaboration of I, linearly generated).
The inflexibility of the 'single-chord' way of analysing is of such magnitude WRT getting musicians to understand the broad, underlying flux of harmonic movement, as to cause me to huff and puff about positioning it alongside the more recent system of allowing a root to survive a bit of voice leading above it. This will need to infuse many articles on harmony. While V6/4 casts the cadential 6/4 as not inverted, it's relevant enough that WP should report both third-party understandings. Tony 05:32, 24 August 2007 (UTC)
PS I've removed Wahoo's well-meant addition of "1 6/4" from my user page ("My pet hates"), because I 6/4 does exist in many places (march- and waltz-time textures, and where an arpeggiated bass hits the fifth above an already-established root—see my exampels on Noetica's talk page, and in Aldwell & Schachter, of course). "Single-chord analysis" is closer to the mark, but that would be misleading—often single-chord analysis works. It doesn't work, in the view of many, where there's voice-leading activity above a sustained root.

All right, it's the Schenkerian analysis approach. We could say the same thing about diminished seventh chords. In fact, all chords are just elaborations of the Ursatz I-V-I, so we shouldn't label any other chords. ;-0 —Wahoofive (talk) 21:04, 26 August 2007 (UTC)

I know little about Schenkerian analysis; it just makes sense to me. Tony 23:50, 26 August 2007 (UTC)


I think a good idea now would be do get some sources that show how both chords are used within inversion from both opposers and supporters of the concepts. Discussion of these sources may help break the deadlock and we could progress to look at how they could be added to the article. Ryan Postlethwaite 21:55, 29 August 2007 (UTC)

Another image[edit]


This excerpt from the hymn Rustington by Hubert Parry might be more useful to illustrate the 6/4 chord before we get into a discussion of the cadential 6/4 or the whole Roman numeral thing. —Wahoofive (talk) 04:34, 3 September 2007 (UTC)

It's an interesting case; I wouldn't object to appending RN I underneath that six-four, since the root (C) has been established two chords before in the six-three position, with a passing-chord between them; there's a sense that I is prolonged for the first three beats, helped by its occurrence on the two stronger beats. Excellent hymn-tune and harmony in the English style. Tony 06:33, 3 September 2007 (UTC)
A great image, I agree Wahoofive. And I agree with Tony's interpretation. If it were on a weak beat between a strong I or V, I wouldn't be inclined to label it at all, but coming between IV and vi, it retains some of the character of I from the beginning of the measure in addition to being a passing 6-4. Great! -- Myke Cuthbert (talk) 16:12, 3 September 2007 (UTC)

BTW, some versions of this hymn are barred differently so that the 6/4 chord appears on a downbeat. It's definitely not a "passing" 6/4 -- arguably it's more like a cadential 6/4 with some intervening chords before its resolution.

But for the purposes of the article Inversion (music) there's no need to use Roman numerals. —Wahoofive (talk) 17:24, 3 September 2007 (UTC)

So I wonder whether Wahoo's find might represent a neat, easy way out of the dispute; that is, by simply changing the cadential 6/4 illustration to this one. The cadential 6/4 will, in any case, be covered in great detail in the dedicated article on that topic. Tony 10:06, 8 September 2007 (UTC) PS Don't you think it would better to label it as I 6/4 here, since we all agree that there's a sense of root (already established)? Tony 10:07, 8 September 2007 (UTC)

Fine with me--how about this: Cut the flat in the signature and say "adapted from "Rustington" by Hubert Parry" to be less confusing, since we're using this to be an illustration of C-major, not F-major. And label the I6, I64 and I chords to show that all both inversions and root position appear in the passage. We could then just say something like "The cadential six-four has the same notes as the I64 chord in the Rustington example, but it is disputed whether that sonority truly functions as a second inversion (see Six-four chord)." -- Myke Cuthbert (talk) 18:32, 8 September 2007 (UTC)

I still think it's better to show a 6/4 in its most common context rather than an example like this which, while not unusual, happens nowhere near as often. However, if the rest of you would prefer this new image I will not object. - Rainwarrior 22:29, 8 September 2007 (UTC)

Response to MsCuthbert: Excellent ideas. My first impulse was to say why not avoid the cadential example completely here—that is my preference, but I suppose there's a small advantage in drawing attention to the disputed status of that phenomenon. I'd like the Parry to go first and be treated as the main example, since no one disputes the second inversion in it. I still want to introduce the distinction between position (may be a sense of root, but may not be) and inversion (a defined root) somewhere above. If people feel uneasy about that, I suggest that Ryan stay on board until we agree on that text. IMV, that would move the article beyond the simplistic to embrace deeper knowledge out there on the concept of inversion. Tony 00:59, 9 September 2007 (UTC) PS Wahoo: please remove the accidental, too!
"position" vs. "inversion"? Never heard of it. We'd better stay in mediation longer. —Wahoofive (talk) 02:20, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
I was kind of wondering about this one too. I've heard "position" used in this context, but only very rarely (excepting the extremely common term "root position"), and it had always seemed synonymous with "inversion". (Very often, however, the term "position" is used in guitar or piano instruction in a way that is related to inversion, but is actually referring to the position of the hand.) The way it is used in Chord (music), for instance, is consistent with how I have always seen the term "position" (though Tony seems to exempt certain things from the name "chord", so maybe it won't read the same to him). Are these two terms actually thoroughly defined and differentiated in some school of music theory? - Rainwarrior 03:32, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
"Position" is also used with such phrases as "close position" and "open position", which have to do with voicing. —Wahoofive (talk) 04:22, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
Right, that's another place where it is involved with a chord but not referring to inversion. - Rainwarrior 05:05, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

New version of image[edit]

Here's the modified version you requested:


Wahoofive (talk) 02:36, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

I'm just curious, but why not figure the whole thing? - Rainwarrior 03:33, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

I was just following up Myke's observation that the C major chord appears in all three positions in this example. —Wahoofive (talk) 04:22, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

OK, we'll need to stay away from the term position in the sense I intended. What I'm referring to is the fundamental notion that just because 6/3 is written below a chord, it doesn't mean it's a first-inversion chord. Same for 6/4. This needs to be pointed out. I don't think it should be hedged with "some theorists believe ...", but if you all insist, I'll live with it.

It might be useful to provide RNs and figures for all chords in the Parry example, because they serve as nice examples of other inversions (e.g., the 6/5). The I 6/4 could be coloured gently (midnightblue?). Tony 06:06, 9 September 2007 (UTC) PS Can we remove the ideological crap between the staves? Tony 06:09, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

I believe the "ideological crap" is the text of the piece. It helps people find the example in context. Thanks for the new version Wahoofive, it looks great to me. -- Myke Cuthbert (talk) 03:35, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
The linguistic text is unnecessary to the point being illustrated. The caption will clearly label the genre and title. I'd prefer not to have mention of heavenly gates or whatever, if it can be avoided. The illustration will be cluttered enough with RNs and figures. White space between the staves would make it less daunting for the uninitiated, who will only want to understand the concept of inversion. Tony 04:03, 10 September 2007 (UTC)

I'm a little uncomfortable with putting Roman numerals on this example, just because we've modified it from the original. It's supposed to be in F major, so this is a tonicization of V. At this point we're bordering on OR by creating an example from scratch. Really, the Roman numerals are just a distraction from the main topic of the article we're discussing. Also: I'm fine with deleting the lyrics, which are also a distraction. And I certainly agree with Tony that the figures themselves don't determine the chords, since they don't allow for suspensions and the like, and we should explain this when we introduce the relation between the figures and the chord inversions.—Wahoofive (talk) 05:55, 11 September 2007 (UTC)

Figures should include the suspensions and other dissonances (it is normal for figured bass to do this). I don't think locally analyzing this excerpt in C is anywhere near original research; it's an example of common analytical practice, not some new theory. The fact that the key of the overall piece is F is completely irrelevant to the excerpt; we don't have the full context here but I think it's safe to assume that most analysts would point out the modulation where it occurred and analyze this particular passage in C. I don't think a roman numeral analysis is a bad idea here; in the "disputed" image I only objected to V6/4-5/3 because it was trying to specifically illustrate the 6/4, whereas in this image there are several plain chords (including the 6/4) that can be clearly marked without dissonance. I don't see this new image as specifically an illustration of a 6/4 chord (especially since it does not illustrate its most common context); it illustrates several inversions at once (and these could be individually referenced from the text, if desired). It would probably best belong at the bottom of the "notations for inverted chords", and not as a drop-in substitute for the disputed image. - Rainwarrior 07:03, 11 September 2007 (UTC)
I would analyze it in F major with a secondary dominant highlighting the half cadence — there's only one B natural. I'm not saying that's they only way, but it's not as cut-and-dried as you seem to think. —Wahoofive (talk) 23:52, 11 September 2007 (UTC)
Also, we're going to have to rewrite the section anyway to finesse Tony's complaint, not just "drop in" a new illustration. —Wahoofive (talk) 23:52, 11 September 2007 (UTC)
It's not illustrating a 6/4 chord, but a second-inversion chord (which is figured with a 6 and 4, of course). Second-inversion chords are a (small) subset of all 6/4 chords in the literature. Now, is the disputed cadential 6/4 staying or going? I hope it's going, to be dealt with in this dedicated article on the 6/4 chord.
It's preferable to insert the roman numerals for the first and third chords to show that this 6/4 is an actual second inversion, with a sense of root. As for completely figuring and RNising the passage, it would be an advantage if it illustrates other aspects of inversions in the main text; otherwise, why clutter—better to have just the I 6/3 and the I 6/4 with figures and RNs to illustrate just the second inversion. Tony 07:16, 11 September 2007 (UTC)
Tony, you surprise me every time you write. 6/4 chord isn't synonymous with second inversion? Maybe what you mean is the 6/4 sonority doesn't mean it's necessarily a chord, but in many cases represents some nonharmonic tones. Maybe we have disparate definitions of what constitutes a chord and that's what leads to our present debacle. Not all simultaneities are chords, or are they?
Also, I really want to know whether it changes your mind to know that that 6/4 actually falls on a downbeat in other editions of this hymn. —Wahoofive (talk) 23:52, 11 September 2007 (UTC)
No, it's not synonymous: that is what this whole dispute has been about. Second-inversion triads are 6/4 chords, but not all 6/4 chords are second-inversion triads—the linearly generated 6/4s, to use Forte's term, don't have a sufficient sense of root, if any at all, to be an inversion of anything. This is why inserting RNs under every chord in many passages of Wagner's music, for example, can be futile; he yearned in much of his output for a lack of root movement, which is why he uses 6/4 position a lot. Figures may help, but RNs indicate root. The cadential 6/4 is analogous, and since its analysis is disputed "out there", it's best not to use that as an example of a second-inversion chord.
As for the Rustington excerpt, which I trust won't be referring to pearly gates and Him with upper-case H (since children may access this article, and shouldn't be exposed to such ideological nonsense)—why confuse things with talk of secondary dominants? The passage is in C major; who cares what the overall home key is? Why not remove the variables that might confound the readers, especially those who visit for instruction in something that they may find difficult to grasp? Tony 13:38, 12 September 2007 (UTC)
  • This is dragging on, and we seem to have a solution: replace the cadential six-four, the inversion status of which is disputed in the literature and here, with Wahoo's good example. Or is this article going to remain locked forever? Tony (talk) 03:00, 30 September 2007 (UTC)
    • I agree that a solution is certainly on the table here. Would you guys like the page unlocking and see what can be put into motion? We can always come back here if things don't work out. Ryan Postlethwaite 17:25, 30 September 2007 (UTC)
    • I'm not clear on what the consensus is here. Could we establish this before unlocking the page? - Rainwarrior 04:47, 2 October 2007 (UTC)
I suppose that it comes down to substituting the contested cadential 6/4 example with the Parry, which we all agree on, and in the text raising the issue of the cadential 6/4 as a phenomenon that is seen in two ways. Tony (talk) 02:59, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
We have not all agreed that the new image is a substitute for a cadential 6/4 image. The only person who has suggested removing the cadential image is you, though you also suggested the possibility of modifying it. I have made my objection to its removal above, so I clearly do not agree to this. I did say that I would abide by whatever consensus we come to, however. I think the questions we need to form a clear consensus on are probably:
1. Where in the article should the Rustington example appear, and what modifications should be made to it before we consider it acceptable.
2. Should the cadential 6/4 image be removed, moved, or modified?
3. What else/ will be said about the 6/4 and where?
My own suggestions are that: 1. the Rustington example is a less typical case of a 6/4 inversion, and should be an additional example after the initial exposition/example about the 6/4. It makes no difference to me whether or not we include the lyrics; I think the change of key signature is good; a roman numeral analysis would be nice. 2. as with 1, I think a cadential 6/4 is a better example. I wouldn't mind adding a chord from the previous measure to provide slightly more context, but as I have said before I think the removal of the symbol I 6/4 sets a bad precedent (for the removal of all use of I 6/4), and the addition of a second set of symbols as you suggested before would be counter-productively confusing. An explanation in the text should be more than sufficient to clarify that there is more than one way to analyze it. 3. I don't object to saying more about the 6/4 there in the text, but I don't have any suggestions about what to add there. - Rainwarrior 06:11, 6 October 2007 (UTC)

(Outdent) If the cadential 6/4 image is retained (against my judgement, since the literature disagrees on its status), privileging 1 6/4 over V 6/4 in any way in its caption is unacceptable. I object to the inclusion of the lyrics as irrelevant and distracting to the point, aside from the problem of their ludicrous ideological imagery. Tony (talk) 09:49, 6 October 2007 (UTC)

Are we reaching a conclusion?[edit]

I just wanted to say that I haven't been following this page closely, because I don't think we're moving toward a reasonable mediation solution. I thought that in mediation we would bring reliable sources to the table to argue our positions according to WP:V. I don't yet see any that Tony has brought to show his position that I6/4 is not accepted (or at least tolerated) by much of the learned theory community. I don't think that the three of us should bend over backwards to satisfy an editor who has only asserted that the others are wrong while we have been citing textbooks and academic articles to show that both symbols are commonly used. Though this mediation is about content not conduct, I don't see myself as able to work together toward a solution with someone who cannot read religious lyrics without labeling them as "ideological crap" and who attacks me and my credentials in other forums. Improving Wikipedia is important to me, but saving myself from anger and endless intractable arguements is even more so. Reluctantly, I'm leaving this mediation. -- Myke Cuthbert (talk) 16:44, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
Would any parties like to add anything to this? Is there any other suitable route that you would like to try? Ryan Postlethwaite 20:31, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
Cuthbert, you misrepresent my views completely, again. Now, I suggest that we set a deadline for resolving this impasse: by the end of October. This is absurd to take so long in deciding on a NPOV way of expressing second-inversions. The article has been locked for god knows how long. Tony (talk) 01:06, 19 October 2007 (UTC) PS Rainwater says that the Rustington is a less typical example of second inversion (you wrongly call it a 6/4 inversion—nothing is that). In the literature, there is disagreement that cadential 6/4s are inversions at all. I suggest that the Rustington example is a good example of second inversion, and should be substituted since no one disagrees with the status of the chord within it. Why use a chord that is controversial, and that everyone here has agreed is such. Cuthbert says he more often describes it as V in real life. Well, hello? Tony (talk) 01:13, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
Did you say disagreement? This is a huge concession from you, Tony. Everyone's life would have been much easier if you'd acknowledged there's disagreement months ago, instead of insisting that the I64 is the province of a few crackpots. —Wahoofive (talk) 05:31, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
It's not a concession at all, and I never asserted that there is no disagreement (out there) about the status of the cadential six-four. I just won't have the silly one paraded as the norm on WP: simple as that. Having the ridiculous I 6/4 (i.e., "the tonic is the root") as analytical notation in the figure, reinforced in the caption, is not acceptable, because it indicates POV that this is the norm. I don't know why your friends are so obsessed with the idea of using a controversial example to illustrate second inversion, when its status is a matter of disagreement, both here, in their own eyes, and out there. And here we have an ideal example in your Rustington excerpt, and they want to be difficult about that, too. Is it that Cuthbert, who is writing an article on the cadential 6/4, has his ego so entangled in the phenomenon that he insists on promoting its existence where it muddies the waters? Tony (talk) 06:34, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
Where in the literature is the I 6/4 analysis disputed? I have seen sources which prefer V with the figured dissonance, but in every such source where I 6/4 is mentioned it was recognized as an alternative, not labelled as incorrect. Earlier in this discussion several examples of this were cited. You haven't yet demonstrated that there is, in fact, a disagreement in the literature, and the lack of sources to support this idea suggests that this is a minority viewpoint. - Rainwarrior 06:51, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
  • I didn't see that Cuthbert has belligerently walked out of this mediation. The personal stuff, I thought, could be left until after it's finished: I certainly have some bones to pick. I'd like to know now whether the remaining other two people are going to try to reach an outcome that is suitable to all of us, or whether the mediation should be disbanded and the article remain locked forever. Tony (talk) 00:11, 20 October 2007 (UTC)
Keeping it locked is better than having an edit war. - Rainwarrior 02:34, 20 October 2007 (UTC)
What on earth does that mean? You'd like it to remain locked permanently? You don't seem to address my question. Tony (talk) 02:56, 20 October 2007 (UTC)
It means that I don't think it should be unlocked as long as we're liable to edit war over it, which seems probable at this point as we really haven't established any kind of consensus here as of yet. Also, with only three people there's not much a consensus to gather. - Rainwarrior 03:23, 20 October 2007 (UTC)
That is why we are here at mediation. The fact that one person has walked out of mediation doesn't mean that it's sabotaged. It means that he is just not part of the consensus that needs to be constructed to progress the article. If this is part of a strategy to have the article locked permanently in a way that you want it, that will easily be seen as acting in bad faith, and I'll take the matter elsewhere for arbitration. So ... four could generate consensus, but three can't? Numbers don't matter here; ideas do. Tony (talk) 03:46, 20 October 2007 (UTC)
I'll be out of town until Monday, so I won't be able to contribute to this discussion from now until then. - Rainwarrior 04:00, 20 October 2007 (UTC)

I apologize if I'm not supposed to interfere, but I have a suggestion to resolve this issue: since the dispute is over whether or not the cadential 6/4 is an inversion at all, perhaps the current image with the example could be moved to a new section specifically labeled "The Cadential 6/4" (with, of course, a link to the main article once that is completed,) and the new image can be used in the section discussing second inversion chords. That way, the image representing a second inversion chord is not disputed to be a second inversion chord, but the cadential 6/4 is not left out of the article. The cadential 6/4 section can then state that it is disputed whether the chord is an inversion or simply a horizontal embellishment of V.--SockEat 03:23, 24 October 2007 (UTC)

That could be a good way to go; since Rainwarrior is so keen to retain the image in the article, will s/he write a sample of the text of this section? The article has been locked for far too long already. Tony (talk) 04:26, 24 October 2007 (UTC)


Please can all parties try and form a time line for when this is going to be resolved? The article has been protected for a very long time now, and I believe it is in everyones interests to get this sorted once and for all. Ryan Postlethwaite 15:32, 24 October 2007 (UTC)

I suggested the end of October a little while ago, but that was ignored by everyone. I suggest now two weeks—around 8 November. Can't be very hard. Tony (talk) 15:54, 24 October 2007 (UTC)
I don't understand this desire for a timeline. What happens if we haven't resolved our differences when the deadline comes up? Does the page become unlocked again and edit warring restart? I don't think that setting a deadline will aid this mediation in any way. - Rainwarrior 16:45, 24 October 2007 (UTC)
We can't keep an article protected for such a long stretch of time over a dispute involving a small number of users, it was discussed in a mediation the other day and found to be unacceptable. We really need to come up with some definate length of time before the article can be unprotected. Ryan Postlethwaite 17:45, 24 October 2007 (UTC)


Please could everyone provide sources on their preferred notation of the inversion and how and when it is used. We can then develop a consensus on how it is used in the article. Ryan Postlethwaite 15:32, 24 October 2007 (UTC)

That's easy: the opposing sources are set out on Cuthbert's own draft article on the six-four chord, specifically in a section Labeling_and_controversy. This is my very point: why bring into an article on "Inversion" an example for which the status as inversion is not agreed on in the literature? Why not use Wahoo's example, on which we all (and the literature) have agreement of its status as second inversion?
However, in the interests of finding a solution, I'm willing to accept in addition an illustration that does not privilege one interpretation. The one in Cuthbert's article would be just fine if accompanied by a brief explanation in the main text and a link to Cuthbert's article (when it's finished).
Second inversion piston ex 189.png

Tony (talk) 15:50, 24 October 2007 (UTC)

We've already discussed sources that use each symbol. I don't think discussing them again in the same way is going to gain us anything here at this point. The kind of source I haven't seen and asked for recently (more or less in echo of Mscuthbert's last words here) is a source that prefers one symbol over the other, acknowledges that symbol, and explains that it is unacceptable. I've come across textbooks that acknowledge both and prefer one but consider the other merely an alternative. At this point Tony1 has yet to give a source or quote that demonstrates a dispute or controversy. - Rainwarrior 16:36, 24 October 2007 (UTC)
Would that suggest that both should be discussed in the article then? Ryan Postlethwaite 17:43, 24 October 2007 (UTC)
All involved here have always agreed that both should be discussed. That is not the dispute we are having. The dispute is about the example used: whether it constitutes POV, whether it is better to use an alternative example, and/or whether having a duplicate example giving the other symbol would be appropriate. - Rainwarrior 03:00, 25 October 2007 (UTC)


Why don't we dicuss both symbols equally in the article, and acknowledge that there is a dispute ove useage? This makes sense - otherwise we wouldn't be in the possition we're in at the minute. If there are some around, sources could be used to discuss why some prefer one over the other. Try and think about the reader in this, they would probaby wish to understand why some people use different symbols, not wikipedia taking a hard stance with preference to one. Anyway, it's just an idea to consider.... Ryan Postlethwaite 17:48, 24 October 2007 (UTC)

Yes, that is sensible, since such a (brief) explanation of differing views on the cadential six-four can tease out further the issue that you can't always ascribe a root on the basis of the figuring (6/3 and 6/4), a fundamental issue that is relevant to the topic of inversion. (I'd be pleased also to have an illustration of this for the 6/3 position where the root is clearly not the sixth above the bass, such as the example I've previously cited; that, also, can be couched in terms of two views, if the other parties are more comfortable that way).
Can we have agreement that Wahoofive's illustration should be used, and that there should be a separate coverage of the cadential six-four issue, in which Cuthbert's illustration above should replace the current illustration, which privileges one view over the other? Either that or we need the equivalent notation for the V in a duplicate illustration. The current arrangement is POV. I suggest that we come up with the associated main text to this illustration if we can agree on its use.
I hear no cooperation on a time-line to resolve this matter, which reinforces my suspicion that the stalling is in bad faith, since the article has been locked in a state that privileges one view over the other. One interpretation is that the other parties would prefer the article to be locked in the long-term; this is not the function of locking, which is meant to be a temporary measure. The article has been frozen in a quite unsatisfactory state for a long time (apart from the POV at issue here). Tony (talk) 02:37, 25 October 2007 (UTC)
I am not satisfied with the current article, I am simply -less- satisfied with edit warring, which I think is more disruptive to the article than keeping it locked. You can continue to voice your suspicions about bad faith here, if you like, but I don't think it will help resolve the argument. - Rainwarrior 03:04, 25 October 2007 (UTC)
But actually, I like how both symbols are used together in a way that does not seem too cluttered in the Piston example Tony1 has posted above. I wouldn't mind at all replacing the current disputed image with this one, especially if we could add its following measure to the end of it, and maybe without the "app app" label. How come nobody mentioned that image before? (I didn't notice it yesterday or I would have said this then.) - Rainwarrior 03:12, 25 October 2007 (UTC)

It almost looks as though there's consensus here; using Cuthbert's illustration to represent the Cadential 6/4 section and using Wahoofive's illustration to represent the second inversion will provide both views attributed to their own advocates while not using a disputed example for the topic of second inversion. Is there anybody that objects to this solution?--SockEat 05:01, 25 October 2007 (UTC)

I objected to the use of Wahoofive's example as the primary example for a 6/4 inversion because the cadential use is far, far more common. I think it's a fine additional example though, especially since it demonstrates all three inversions. - Rainwarrior 05:29, 25 October 2007 (UTC)
More common it may be, but its status is disputed out there. That is why it needs to be treated secondarily. There is nothing wrong with the use of Wahoo's example as the primary example, since no one objects to its status as second inversion. For readers who are looking for simplicity and clarity, you can't beat it. After such a clear-cut example is used to exemplify second inversion, then the much-used but ambiguous phenomenon of the cadential six-four can be covered—in not too much detail, I hope—with the Piston example, modified as Rainwarrior suggests.
And thanks very much, I will continue to talk about bad faith, and I don't need your imprimatur to do so. If you're "less satisfied with edit warring", why did you edit war in the first place, with a grinning emoticon on Wahoo's talk page, and accuse me publicly of employing a sockpuppet? (That is an accusation that will continue to poison the workings of this and related articles.) Tony (talk) 07:51, 25 October 2007 (UTC)
So again, please cite a source and a quote demonstrating this disputed status. You have not yet done so. - Rainwarrior 08:20, 25 October 2007 (UTC)

(Outdent) You mean musical examples in which the V appears in the analytical notation? Aldwell E and Schachter C (1989) Harmony and voice leading, 2nd ed., is filled with examples, wherever you look. I opened at Examples 19-4, p287, and 17-21, p263; why don't you have a look yourself? Ho hum, it's easy to find a direct quote, so I suppose I'll bother to type it in to settle the matter (it could be used—perhaps paraphrased—in the main text):

The 6/4 chord of bar 7 contains the same tones as the tonic triad; for this reason most harmony books label such chords "I 6/4". This label may be helpful for purposes of identification but it contradicts the meaning and function of a 6/4 chord used in this way. The chord does not act as an inversion of I 5/3; it serves neither to extend it nor to substitute for it (play ... a D in the bass ... and hear how different the chord sounds). [My ellipses; the slashed figures here represent vertical super/subscript used in the source.] p140

They go on to describe the origin of the cadential 6/4 in easy, logical terms, as "an old voice-leading technique: delaying the leading tone at a cadence by means of a suspension [that] decorates a cadential V ..." [examples and further explanation provided in the source].

The only other source I have at hand is Forte A (1974) Tonal harmony in concept and practice, 2nd ed. At p. 68, on basic inversions, he says:

"... the 6th chord [he's referring to 6/3 chords] is a consonsant chord equivalent to the parent chord [his term here for the root-position chord from which the 6/3 chord is derived]. However, when the inversion process is extended beyond the first inversion a chord equivalent to the parent chord is not produced. [Example 78 intercedes] ... Unlike the parent triad and its first inversion, the 6/4 is a dependent, unstable chord which depends for its meaning upon a triad other than the parent chord. This dependence is clearly evident in the ... cadential 6/4. [Again, the slashes are mine.]

He goes on to provide an example in which the cadential 6/4 is given in the upper figure and vertically aligned with I–V–I in the lower figure (bass tonic–dominant–tonic); between the staves, he inserts the words "Does not equal". In other places, he goes to great lengths to distinguish the melodic and harmonic generation of 6/3 and 6/4 positions, and I suggest that a WP article on inversion should refer to this at an early stage, since it will aid the readers' understanding of the basic concept that position and inversion are not always equivalent, since there has to be a sense of root a 6th or a 4th above the bass, respectively, in first- and second-inversion chords (Wahoo, please note). The term linear chord is one that Forte promoted, if he didn't coin it himself—I'm unsure.

These writings, and other texts—including countless Schenkerian analyses (I don't count myself as a Schenkerian)—no doubt underpin Cuthbert's "Disputed" section in his draft article on the 6/4 chord. Why you need me to tell you these things I do not know.

So I've done what you asked; can we move this process forward? Tony (talk) 15:19, 25 October 2007 (UTC) PS A & S have good examples from the musical literature of the same issue WRT 6/3 chords.

I don't know why you think Mscuthbert's proto-article explains anything about either the A&S or Forte source. I wanted to know how these sources discuss the 6/4, as you had not yet cited them as anything more than sources which prefer the analysis over V. Thanks for finally providing a little more verifiable information on the subject, and I really feel that sources are the way to resolve the dispute (as they are with many Wikipedia disputes). So, this is a very good step. I'll try to get my hands on these books sometime soon. For the immediate, some points on what you've provided:
  • Neither of these quotes appear to eschew the I 6/4 symbol as strongly as you yourself do. The Forte quote doesn't address it, and the A&S quote clearly acknowledges it as commonplace, despite asserting fault with its meaning.
  • Forte implies that 6/4 is an inversion ("when the inversion process is extended..."), though A&S does indeed claim that it is not (I'm glad you've finally given a source that says this directly).
  • Neither quote gives any insight as to your use of the term "position" which both myself and Mscuthbert found unusual. I would not like to redefine terms like "position" in this Wikipedia article unless we can establish that the terms are used this way in the literature. (I'm sure you find it a useful or logical distinction, but that is not the problem I have with it.)
Anyhow, I believe the way to proceed here is to continue to discuss source material. The main reason we have been having this dispute is that you have offered only logical argument for a matter which is not about logic but about language. Of course the logic and reasoning for preferring one symbol or another are important, but this is an Encylopedia, not an essay. I've asked you to provide sources because they are fundamental to Wikipedia. Your logic is original research, but Aldwell & Schachter's isn't. - Rainwarrior 07:10, 26 October 2007 (UTC)
In response to you largely offensive comments: Cuthbert's article has a disputes section, which cites A & S and another text I'm unfamiliar with. That is a good indication that the proto-article accepts the fact of the dispute. I don't know what stronger indication from Forte you could have than Does not equal. Your claim that "the Forte quote doesn't address it" is pure rubbish. Go and read it yourself. Carrying further the process of inversion doesn't produce a second inversion: is that so hard for you to understand? Position/inversion—I don't care, as long as "inversion" is used in the assumption of a root, where that root is not the bass. When V is under a cadential 6/4, the 6/4 is not an inversion.
It appears that you're being perversely difficult rather than constructive. I have tried to be constructive, but am met with anything but the kind of friendly collaboration that WP thrives on. Tony (talk) 09:12, 26 October 2007 (UTC)
More or less every question or comment I have made during this dispute has been met with an accusation of bad faith from you. I am no longer willing to continue with this mediation. - Rainwarrior 09:18, 26 October 2007 (UTC)

Moving on....[edit]

I see that we are down to two people left in this mediation, which is disapointing as I was sure we were close to a compromise. This might well be an ideal time to create a subpage to try out the new ideas for the page and maybe a compromise can be thrashed out there. Ryan Postlethwaite 10:12, 26 October 2007 (UTC)

Thank you, Ryan. I'm posting on Wahoo's page now to ask him to participate in this. Tony (talk) 10:25, 26 October 2007 (UTC)