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Section 10.1 Introduction to Non-Chord Tones

Non-chord tones are notes that do not belong to the chord. Sometimes referred to as “embellishing tones” and “non-harmonic tones,” non-chord tones are classified by how they are approached and left (either by same tone, step, or leap).
There are nine types of non-chord tones.
Table 10.1.1.
Non-Chord Tone Approached by Left by
Passing Tone step step in same direction
Neighbor Tone step step in opposite direction
Appoggiatura leap step
Escape Tone step leap in opposite direction
Double Neighbor see text see text
Anticipation step same note
Pedal Point same note same note
Suspension same note step down
Retardation same note step up
The following qualifiers can be applied to non-chord tones:
  • Accented—occurring on the beat
  • Unaccented—occurring on the weak part of the beat (on the offbeat)
  • Chromatic—not belonging to the key
  • Metrical—equal to the duration of the beat
  • Sub-metrical—smaller than the beat
  • Super-metrical—larger than the beat