One of the great sources of beauty in melody is when a note is held over to the following chord, creating a brief tension until the melody falls to a note belonging to the second chord. Suspending the note creates a temporary dissonance in the harmony which can be incredibly appealing.
There are hundreds of thousands of examples of the use of suspensions, across every genre. I’ve picked out a few classics, with which most people will be familiar.
See Me, Feel Me by The Who
The suspension occurs here in bar 2 as the G note is held over as the F major chord arrives, adding a beautiful 9th to the chord. The drama of this phrase is also created by the way the chords rise in whole tones from Eb major to F major to G major.
I’ve Been Dazed by Michael Kiwanuka
There is one suspension here. In bar 3, the B note is held over the arriving D major chord. In bar 6, the G# note is resolved by the E major chord arriving in bar 7. The same occurs in the Snow Patrol example below.
Waterloo Sunset by The Kinks
The first suspension occurs in bar 2 when the B note is held over the arriving D major chord. Then, in 3, the F# is suspended over the A major chord. Finally, in bar 4, the E note is suspended over the G chord. That’s as compact an example as you’ll ever see. It’s also one of my favourite melodies.
Run by Snow Patrol
There is only one true suspension here in the last bar, when the D note holds over to the F chord, which is then resolved as the melody drops to a C. However, it is also interesting that, in bar 2, the melody rises to a D and this then hangs over to the G major chord in bar 3, which contains the D note. The same occurs in bar 4, when the melody rises to an E note, which resolves itself as the A minor chord arrives in bar 5. In these two examples, the dissonance occurs before the chord change, not after. It certainly works and gives this song its distinctive appeal.
I’m going to keep hunting for great examples and I’ll add them here when I find them.
In the meantime, enjoy the suspense.