MUS 112 Study Guide L (Chapter 12)

Nonharmonic Tones II

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Nonharmonic Tones

  1. The Suspension (S):  occurs when a nonharmonic tone is approached by a harmonic tone of the same pitch and resolved down by stepwise motion.  The note of approach is often tied into the dissonance.  Unlike other nonharmonic tones, the suspension is described not only as a melodic device, but also harmonically by the interval between it and the lowest sounding note (bass note).  There are four basic suspensions:

The 4 3 suspension:  The suspended note is a fourth above the bass and it resolves to a third above the bass (usually a M3).

The 7 6 suspension:  The "6" of "7 6" indicates that the suspension is found over a first inversion.

The 9 8 suspension:  The "8" of "9 8" usually indicates that the suspension is found in a chord with its root in the bass.

The 2 3 suspension:  This suspension is always found in the lowest voice.  "2 3" is not a figured bass, but refers to the interval of a second above the bass, which becomes a third when the suspension resolves.  Even when the compound intervals of a ninth and tenth are used, it is still called a 2 3 suspension.

  1. Special Uses of the Suspension (S):

Change of Bass Note:  As the suspension resolves, the chord may change to a different position, or the chord spelling may change altogether.  This is a common occurrence in 9 8 suspensions.  (The note of resolution is still consonant, regardless of the change in context.)

The Ornamental Resolution:  There is a wide variety of such resolutions.  These involve various notes and rhythms in the decorative pattern leading to the resolution.

Suspensions in the Six-Four Chord:  (See text page 259 for two examples.  These are not commonly encountered and analysis can be confusing.)

Chain suspension:  occurs when two or more suspensions follow each other in succession, the note of one resolution of one suspension becoming the note of approach for the next suspension.

The Double Suspension:  Combines two suspensions simultaneously in harmony, such as a 6 5 with a 4 3.  In essence, this particular combination is a second-inversion chord moving to a root position chord; however, since the interval of a fourth is involved in the first chord, it is technically a suspension.

Suspensions in Instrumental Writing:  Often, the note of approach is of shorter duration than the dissonance.  This is sometimes because the harmony preceding the dissonance is arpeggiated.  

  1. Other Nonharmonic Tones:

Retardation (R):  like a suspension, except that the dissonance ascends.  These are not as common as suspensions, but are not rare.

Anticipation (A):  is the same pitch as its following harmonic tone, thus anticipating the note of resolution.  It is commonly in the soprano voice in four-part writing.  (Double anticipations are possible.)

Appoggiatura (App):  approached by leap and resolved by step.  The resolution is usually opposite to that of the leap.  The App can occur on a strong beat or a weak beat.

The term appoggiatura also has other meanings:  (1) The term is sometimes applied to any nonharmonic tone in a strong rhythmic position, regardless of the note of approach.  The suspension tied to its resolution is an exception.  (2) The term is also given to a small note appearing before a principal note in a melody.  This appoggiatura receives half the value of the following undotted note, or two thirds the value of the following dotted note value.  This practice principally applies to music of the Baroque and Classical eras.  This appoggiatura resembles a "grace note," but without the slash across the stem.

The grace note is a small note with a slash across the stem.  It is performed without specific time value and as quickly as possible.

Escape Tone (ET):  also called échappée.  An escaped tone is a nonharmonic tone approached by step and left by leap.  The resolution is usually in a direction opposite to that of the approach.

Successive Neighbor Tones (SN):  also called changing tones.  This entity requires four notes, the second and third of which act as successive upper and lower neighbors, or vice versa.  The first and fourth notes are usually the same.

Pedal (P):  also called pedal point or organ point.  The pedal is a note sustained in one voice while the harmonies are changing in other voices.  It most often occurs in the bass voice–the name derived from holding down one note with the foot pedal of the organ.  When the sustained tone is found as the highest voice, it is known as an inverted pedal.  When found in an inner voice (not common), it is known as an inner pedal or internal pedal.  While being sustained, the pedal pitch may sometimes be consonant and sometimes dissonant.

  1. Various Other Uses of Nonharmonic Tones: wide and varied; following are a few:

Successive Different Nonharmonic Tones:  Successions of different nonharmonic tones are also possible.

Simultaneous Different Nonharmonic Tones:  Combinations of any two, and sometimes three, different nonharmonic tones are possible.  The only limitation (also true of simultaneous similar nonharmonic tones) is that each nonharmonic tone must in itself be used correctly, and each must be consonant with any other nonharmonic tone.

Appoggiatura Chord:  often applied to a group of tones (a chord) over a bass tone that implies a different harmony.

Unprepared Nonharmonic Tone:  This tone occurs when the first note of a melodic line or motive begins with a dissonance.  It is usually analyzed as an appoggiatura.

"Consonant" Nonharmonic Tones:  This contradictory designation refers to a tone that is consonant above the lowest tone but dissonant to the harmony implied in the chord progression.  This happens frequently in music for fewer than four voices.  In four voices, this type of nonharmonic tone is rather frequent, especially when it is a sixth going to a fifth above the bass.

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