Music Theory
Acoustic Composition
1 of 2

What are the “proper” names of non-chord tones?

Non-chord tones are what we call notes that don’t “fit” in a chord. Usually, these notes resolve before the next chord, but that distinction has become less important over time. The chart below should help you identify any non-chord tones you come across in the future.

Nonharmonic ToneApproached byResolved by
Passing ToneStepStep in same direction
Neighbor ToneStepStep in opposite direction
Neighbor GroupStepLeap in opposite direction then step back
Escape ToneStepLeap
AnticipationStep or LeapCommon tone
SuspensionCommon toneStep down
RetardationCommon toneStep up
Pedal PointCommon toneCommon tone