For an example if I used an escape tone from F major to C major, using a B-flat note to G, once the chord changes from F major to C major. In all examples I've seen on non-harmonic tones it seems you have to start from the chord tones itself, then step or leap up to the non tone, but can you possibly just play the non chord itself without having to approach it by any of the chord tones?

  • 1
    Are you learning music theory with very little reference to actually playing and listening to what the components are like? It's by far the best way to understand it all.
    – Tim
    Oct 17 '16 at 7:04
  • In a way yes, because im trying to get down to the foundation of how each piece functions. Every little aspect i want to know, no matter how minuscule.
    – Janice Cee
    Oct 17 '16 at 9:42
  • Please do it with a musical instrument - even an old electronic keyboard - cheap and cheerful! (Keyboard is preferrable over any other instrument). The theory is only there to explain what happens, not to be a basis for everything we play. It's so important to know what it sounds like. Without that, it won't actually make a lot of sense when you finally do start playing, only having a head full of theories. There are far more musos out there who DON'T know theory. That doesn't stop them being great players! I'm not denigrating theory, only trying to put it into perspective.
    – Tim
    Oct 17 '16 at 10:08
  • @JaniceCee Nothing in your original question made me suspect that weren't actually playing music; if you're having fun doing whatever you're doing, keep doing it!
    – Richard
    Oct 17 '16 at 15:31
  • With all of these non harmonic tones, can each one of the principles be applied to all the chord tones; aside from the fifth? For example a neighboring tone of G the fifth in the C major triad, would be an (A) note, but could these methods apply to the other chord tones as well? Also could any nonchord tone be used for example in the c major scale, can all the sharps be used to some degree or do all of the non chord tones have to be diatonic?
    – Janice Cee
    Oct 17 '16 at 16:29

Of course you can! Sometimes (but not always/everywhere!) these nonharmonic tones can be called "incomplete." Imagine you have a C major chord; if the melody plays E--F--E, the F is a neighbor tone. But if the melody plays C--F--E, the F is suddenly an "incomplete" neighbor because it wasn't preceded by E. The same would be true if you just had F--E, either with or without a rest at the beginning.

You can even take this to higher levels. Beethoven's first symphony, although in C major, starts off on a C7 chord, actually the V7/IV in the overall key. And then you can get to Chopin ballades, etc., which actually just plain start off in completely different keys than what the piece is actually "in."

All of this to say: do it!


Yes, you can start anywhere you like.

We learn by analysing simple music, where everything is neatly in-scale, in-key, in-mode. That's fine But don't fall in to the trap of thinking you're learning a set of rules, a list of notes that CAN'T be used.

Anyway, 'theory' knows about 'unprepared suspensions'. Sometimes called 'appoggiaturas'. You can even have suspensions - prepared or unprepared - that don't resolve at all!

'Theory' is much better at describing and labelling what you HAVE done than at telling you what you CAN do.

  • Except that if they're not prepared, that makes them appoggiaturas, no?
    – Rosie F
    Oct 14 '18 at 12:22
  • Yes, that's another name for an unprepared suspension. Oct 14 '18 at 12:31

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