The harmonic tone preceding, called the note of
The dissonance (nonharmonic tone).
The harmonic tone following, called the note of
Passing tones are found most frequently between two
chord tones a third apart.
If the harmonic tones are an interval of a fourth
apart (root to fifth of the chord), two passing tones would be
required to fill the gap.
Two successive passing tones can also occur at the
point of a change of chords–one unaccented and the other accented.
Chromatically altered nonharmonic tones are common.
Double nonharmonic tones (two sounding simultaneously)
are commonly found in four-part writing.
Figured Bass Symbols: A figured bass
symbol does not indicate the type of nonharmonic tone above
it. It simply indicates the intervals above the bass. The
name of the dissonance depends upon its preceding and following notes
. A given figured bass number can apply to any type of dissonance.
4 3 means a movement from a fourth to a third above
the bass note; 3 2, likewise, means a movement from a third to a
second above the bass; others are possible, such as 6 5.
Any time two of the same numbers appear beneath a bass
note, it means that interval is to be doubled. See example
below. (1) the top numbers indicate a third moving down to a
second above the bass (in shorter rhythmic values: if the bass
note is a quarter note, the 3 & 2 would be eighth notes), (2) the
bottom symbols indicate that the third is to be doubled, and the
third in that particular voice is to be held through (as a quarter
note) while the eighth notes above change.
When two (or more) numbers are found vertically below
a bass note, the numbers are usually placed in descending order re the
figured bass symbol, although the actual voicing may place the lower
value above the higher value.
When horizontally successive numbers appear under a
bass note, these refer to successive notes in one of the melodic lines
When there is a change of bass note, the figures under
the new note only relate to the new note.
The Seventh above the root: Even if a
seventh chord appears in inversion, the appearance of a 7th
above the root of the chord creates the aural impression of a
Avoiding Parallels: Be sure to avoid
unwanted parallel motion when utilizing nonharmonic tones, as
well. Always check each nonharmonic tone against any other voice
moving in the same direction.
Accented Nonharmonic Tones: An accented
nonharmonic tone temporarily replaces a harmonic tone. To
determine the double wanted, consider the accented nonharmonic tone to
be the same chord member as the note to which it resolves.
Simultaneous Nonharmonic Tones: When any
two nonharmonic tones sound simultaneously, the interval between the
two voices should remain constant.