1 Non chord tones (continued)

In Lesson 9 you learned about two types of non chord tones–passing tones and neighboring tones. Following is a review of those plus an introduction to several other non chord tones that are commonly used.

passing tone

Passing tones occur stepwise between two different chord tones. In the examples below, the passing tones are circled. In each case, they “pass” from one tone of an F major triad to another tone of that triad. All the passing tones in the following example are unaccented passing tones, since they occur on the weak part of the beat.

Accented passing tones occur on the strong part of the beat, as in the following examples.

neighboring tone

Neighboring tones occur stepwise above or below a repeated chord tone. A neighboring tone may be unaccented or accented. Following are examples of unaccented neighboring tones.

Here are examples of neighboring tones occurring on the strong part of the beat (“accented neighboring tones”).


The suspension is a chord tone of one chord which continues to sound (is suspended) through the change of harmony, then resolves stepwise downward to a chord tone of the second chord. Think of a suspension as having three parts: the preparation (usually on a rhythmically weak beat), the suspension (on a strong beat and not part of the new chord) and the resolution down a step to a chord tone (following on a weak beat).



The anticipation is an unaccented non chord tone which belongs to the second of two chords but is sounded before the second chord is heard. As its name implies, it anticipates the chord to which it belongs. Thus the anticipation is the opposite of the suspension. An anticipation is usually approached by step.



The appoggiatura is an accented non chord tone which is approached by a skip and resolved stepwise, usually in the opposite direction. Some theorists refer to any accented non chord tone as an appoggiatura, such as the accented passing tone or the suspension which is not tied or held over. We will use the more specific interpretation, however. It is one of the most effective non chord tones because it is dramatic.