7.9 Embellishing tones: nonharmonic tones


Category: Harmony


In this chapter, you will learn about nonharmonic tones and their names. In the exercise, you learn to recognize nonharmonic tones yourself.

1. Nonharmonic tones

Melody tones do not always belong to the particular chord being used. These tones are called nonharmonic tones or embellishing tones. Melody tones belonging to a particular chord are called harmonic tones.

There are four main types of nonharmonic tones:

  1. passing tone
  2. neighboring tone (or auxiliary tone)
  3. anticipation
  4. suspension

2. Passing tone

A passing tone is a nonharmonic tone, used to provide a link between two harmonic tones. Most commonly, passing tones are found in relatively weak positions rhythmically. But they also occur in relatively strong positions.



note example

3. Neighboring tone

A neighboring tone is a tone which follows a harmonic tone by step, either above or below, but then returns to the same harmonic tone. It can be chromatically altered to make the interval a half step. A neighboring tone is always found in weak positions rhythmically.



note example

4. Anticipation

An anticipation is the sounding of a tone before the chord to which it belongs. An anticipation is always found in weak positions rhythmically.



note example

5. Suspension

A suspension is a nonharmonic tone, played a second above or below a chord tone against this chord. The suspended tone produces a dischord. The suspension is followed by a harmonic tone of the new chord. A suspension is always found on a strong beat.



note example

6. Practise

Harmony exercise 7a: embellishing tones. Practise recognizing nonharmonic tones.

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