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I have two questions about this excerpt.

  1. In measure 1 (don't include the pickup note as a measure), there is an Eb tonic chord in the bass staff. How would the F in the melody line be analyzed as a non chord tone (since it's a leap followed by another leap)? I think I read that could be considered an anticipation, but I'm not sure if that's right. Someone else told me non chord tones approached and left by leap are simply color tones. Any thoughts?

  2. Would the first 4 measures be considered a phrase? It doesn't really end with a cadence since it just stays on a I chord. However, it still feels like the end of a phrase when it is played. Should this be analyzed as a sentence?

I'd appreciate any thoughts about these things. Thanks!


3 Answers 3

  1. As other answers have already stated, the F is in fact a passing down between the E♭ and G. Calling this an E♭2 chord or anything like it would be very seriously misguided, in my opinion.

  2. As for phrase lengths, I would say that this entire excerpt is a single phrase. That's because this is a very clear example, as you wondered, of what we call a "sentence." A sentence begins with a "basic idea," which is what we have here in the first two measures. Then the sentence immediately repeats (or varies) that basic idea, which we have here in mm. 3–4. At this point, the sentence moves into the "continuation" portion before reaching a cadence in the final measure (here, m. 8). Since this entire excerpt is a single phrase, we'd call smaller portions of it (e.g., mm. 1–4) a "subphrase."

  • 1
    It is always good to learn new terms in English. Good to know we can trust Richard. Commented Apr 9, 2019 at 16:37

I would say that the F in the first measure is a passing tone to the G. You call also call it an Eb9 chord, which the 9 would be considered a color tone, but I don't know if that would really be common practice.

Also, I would say that they are 2 bar phrases. If I was playing it I would think 2 bar phrases when deciding how to shape the music.

  • Thats what I meant sorry, I will edit it for future readers. Commented Apr 9, 2019 at 3:23
  • Thanks. I'm just wondering about the whole concept of "a phrase must end with a cadence". The fact that the I chord stays throughout the first four measures makes it seem less like the definition of a phrase. Commented Apr 9, 2019 at 3:43
  • 2
    That assertion is false. music.stackexchange.com/questions/72172/…
    – user48353
    Commented Apr 9, 2019 at 3:52
  • 1
    You could call it an Eb2 chord. Eb9 presupposes a 7th included.
    – Tim
    Commented Apr 9, 2019 at 8:18
  1. The F is a passing tone and don’t have to be harmonized (and not further analyzed).

An anticipation would mean an element of a succeeding chord as the example the do of the tonic when we are still in the dominant: ti_do do (V - I) re_do do as the 16th note before the final Eb.

As the harmony in the left hand consists only of whole and half notes you can ignore the quarters and the movement of eight notes. They are passing tones and change notes and also suspended notes es the 2nd G in the last bar of the upper line.

  1. Yes these are 2 bars phrases. In German we would say:

Bar 1-4: phrase, phrase repetition,

Bar 5-8: forward spinning

The whole thing is called a period.


My translation of the German expression „Fortspinnung“ may be clumsily. I haven‘t found an English translation.


In the discussion of the formal elements of music the terms phrase and Satz are pretty stressed.

Richard uses the term „subphrase“ for the 2 bars of a repetition of a motive which seems to be the correct term in English for period (in German: Phrase, Phrase-Wiederholung, Fortspinnung)


  • 1
    Yes, since bars 3 and 4 are repeats of 1 and 2, they're 2 bar phrases.
    – Tim
    Commented Apr 9, 2019 at 8:21
  • 2
    Fortspinnung is a word that we go ahead and use in English; most "educated" musicians should know it! And "subphrase" is actually distinct from "period," at least in the ways that I've always used them. But theorists vary widely on these terms, so it's no surprise that we have different ones!
    – Richard
    Commented Apr 9, 2019 at 17:49

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