I am attempting to analyze the G note in the melody pictured below using Paul Hindemith's terminology/framework set out in his Book 2.

From what I can gather, the melodic formulae Hindemith is considered with include the:

  • Repeat tone;
  • Passing tone;
  • Suspension;
  • Anticipation;
  • Unprepared or free suspension;
  • Neighbor tone approached by skip;
  • Neighbor tone left by skip;
  • Accented free tone; and
  • Unaccented free tone.

As you can see, the G is a non-chord tone that is approached and left by skip. So, I believe that would make it some sort of free tone. That being said, the G, on beat 2.5, is not in a weaker or stronger metric point than the note which follows it, the C on beat 3.5. Because of this, I don't see how it could be classified as either an accented or unaccented free tone.

How would you classify this melodic operation? I would like to stick to the terms and definition found in the book I am referencing, so please let me know if I can provide any further information from the text.

three measure melodic segment with chord symbols

  • I think that to answer this, the harmonization for the entire measure is required.
    – Aaron
    Commented Apr 26, 2021 at 1:33
  • Please see the OP--the F major covers all beats in this measure.
    – 286642
    Commented Apr 26, 2021 at 1:41
  • Cool. Is there a measure before and/or after? Those also could influence the interpretation.
    – Aaron
    Commented Apr 26, 2021 at 2:03
  • Please see OP for a more complete image. Thanks
    – 286642
    Commented Apr 26, 2021 at 2:18
  • 1
    Scary? are you joking? The question is about NCT classification, the concern is about the melody. I wanted to know if Hindemith gave it as an example to go with the list. Commented Apr 27, 2021 at 12:54

2 Answers 2



In my interpretation, the best fit for the G is neighbor tone both approached and left by skip. I would also say it's part of an incomplete double-neighbor gesture, along with the preceding E.

Here is my thinking for each of the options given

Preferred answers are in bold; "okay" answer is in italic

  • Repeat tone

Obviously not, since the G only occurs once.

  • Passing tone

Again, obviously not, since the G is approached and left by skips in opposite directions.

  • Suspension

Again, no, since the G isn't held over from the previous harmony.

  • Anticipation

No, since the G is not part of the following harmony.

  • Unprepared or free suspension

Also no, for the same not-a-suspension reason given above. (However, it's interesting to consider that, since the harmony in the previous measure is G, perhaps this tone could be perceived as a suspension under the right circumstances. Not here, though.)

  • Neighbor tone approached by skip

To my ear, the G clearly functions as an (incomplete) upper neighbor to the preceding F. This becomes more clear by omitting the E — the overall sound of the melody is not significantly changed.

  • Neighbor tone left by skip

Obviously, since I consider the G a neighbor tone, it is left by skip, thus....

  • Accented free tone

If I were grading an exam that gave this as the answer, I would accept it. The G is accented by virtue of being both a syncopation and by being longer that the E. I find the "free tone" interpretation less convincing than the "neighbor" interpretation, but not unreasonable.

  • Unaccented free tone

I would consider the G accented because of the notes that come before, but even excluding that, it's clearly not unaccented for the same reasons I consider it accented.


...that being said, the G, on beat 2.5, is not in a weaker or stronger metric point than the note which follows it...

Why does it matter what the following note is? Does Hindemith define accent differently than the standard?

The G is off the beat. It's unaccented.

You might say two syncopated notes creates a kind of accent, shifting things to the off beat, but a least in terms of non-chord tone classification, accent is on the beat, unaccented is off the beat.

  • Hindemith is concerned with the relative strength of tones, be it the tonal or metric significance. I suppose this dynamic most relevant in suspensions, anticipations, and the like
    – 286642
    Commented Apr 27, 2021 at 0:13
  • It appears that you and @aaron have different definitions for accented/unaccented notes?
    – 286642
    Commented Apr 27, 2021 at 0:19
  • @286642, the context of the accent is the difference. Syncopation is accenting a weak beat. But in non chord tone definitions, all I have ever seen, syncopation is not included, it's a different context, and in that context accent is about on/off the beat. Commented Apr 27, 2021 at 13:30
  • Actually, Hindemith points out this changing context at the end of chapter IV, book I. Essentially when the rhythm is syncopated, the normal strong/weak beat accents are reversed. Commented Apr 27, 2021 at 13:48

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