1. Non-harmonic tones are the notes that do not fit into the prevailing harmony. These
notes must be accounted for somehow, or else we cannot adequately answer the basic
music theory question "what do we do with all these notes?"
2. Theorists have developed names and definitions for each type of non-harmonic tone.
In practice however, one finds notes periodically that do not seem to fit any one particular
definition. Therefore, when dealing with non-harmonic tones, one must look at the
function of the tone, choose the label that best applies, then offer an explanation of why
that label fits best.
3. Sometimes one encounters difficulty choosing which notes in a passage are non-
harmonic because the harmony is unclear or because certain choices affect which
harmony is chosen. Usually instances like this are resolved by listening to or playing the
passage. Remember, let the music tell you what it is doing; don't impose your theory on
Types of non-harmonic tones: Non-harmonic tones are defined according to the way they
are approached and left. They are best remembered in pairs, as they are listed and defined
Passing tones - notes that pass by step between chord tones.
Neighboring tones - notes that leave and return to the same chord tone by step.
Appoggiatura* - a note that is approached by leap, and resolved to a chord tone
by step. Usually the resolution is in the opposite direction of the leap.
Escape tone - the opposite of an appoggiatura. It is approached by step and
resolved to a chord tone by leap.
Suspension - a note that is held over, that is approached by itself, and resolved to
the chord tone by step after the chord has arrived.
Anticipation - the chord tone arrives before the chord. It is usually approached
Other types of non-harmonic tones that do not form logical pairs:
Pedal tone - a repeating note or held note over (or under or around) which the harmony
Auxiliary tone - a note that relates to a chord tone by step but may not be a neighboring
Changing tones - consist of two notes, one that leaves the chord tone by step, then leaps
to the next non-harmonic tone by skipping over the chord tone, then resolving to the same
chord tone by step.
Vocabulary, Sight Reading, Score Analysis, Ear Training
1. To understand basic functions of non-harmonic tones (i.e. Passing tones)
2. Manage non-harmonic tone terms & vocabulary
3. Visually identify these notes on a score.
4. Audibly recognize the performance of these notes.
1.Demonstrate knowledge of the fundamentals needed for strong musical
2.Demonstrate awareness and ability to apply these tools in a composition
3.Demonstrate proper execution of fundamentals using band music
Instruments, handouts given by instructor, band music, music recordings (iPod)
Introduce basic concept of a passing tone buy explaining and performing for the
class. Review the Handout with terms and definitions collectively.
1. Play a recording of high-level playing
2. Explain the importance of listening to high level playing
3. Explain the importance of having a consistent daily practice/study routine
4. Introduce the mechanics of theses notes as compositional tools.
1. Read through out handout piece
2. Identify these tones on current band music
3. Listen to high-level recordings with the intent of identifying non-chord tones
Assign the handout for further identification of these specified tones to be
assessed later. Ask if anyone can think of current Band Music that uses these techniques.
Were all the concepts and goals presented? Were the students able to execute the
concepts presented? If not, which concepts were achieved? What were the student's
responses to direct questions asked to check for understanding?