As you’ve probably noticed by now, not every note in the music we see fits in the chords we plop Roman numerals under. Luckily, these nonchord tones happen in regularly recurring ways and we have names for them.
When we see a nonchord tone as we analyze, we circle the notehead, and then write the abbreviation for what kind of nonchord tone it is nearby.
Passing Tone (PT)
Passing Tone – approached and left by step in the same direction. Can have more than one in a row. Can be accented or unaccented.
Neighbor Tone (NT)
Neighbor Tone – approached and left by step in the opposite direction. Can be above (upper) or below (lower).
Neighbor Group (NG)
Neighbor Group – an upper NT followed by a lower NT (or vice versa) without chord tone in between.
Incomplete Neighbor (IN)
Incomplete Neighbor – a NT where one of the steps is a leap instead. Two specific versions below.
Appoggiatura – approached by leap and left by step in the opposite direction. Usually accented. Pain to spell correctly. Two Ps, two Gs, and an i in there.
Escape Tone (ET)
Escape Tone – approached by step and left by leap in the opposite direction. Usually unaccented.
Anticipation – a note in the next chord that arrives too early.
Retardation – a note that holds on into the next chord, and then resolves up by step. No interval numbers needed (see below).
Suspension – a note that holds on into the next chord, and then resolves down by step. Need to specify intervals above bass of SUS and resolved note as well (9-8, 7-6, 4-3). If the lowest voice makes a suspension, it is 2-3.
Pedal – a tone that holds constant through multiple chords and is dissonant against multiple notes that make up a chord around it. Other NCTs move through chords; chords move through a PED.