IV. Diatonic Harmony, Tonicization, and Modulation
- Embellishing tones can be grouped into three categories (summarized in
- Involving only stepwise motion: ,
- Involving a leap: ,
- Involving static notes: , , ,
our discussion of strong predominants. You might have noticed that some of the notes in the bass in mm. 8–10 don’t fit our harmonic analysis. These notes, which are blue and circled in , are collectively called “” because they embellish notes that belong to the chord. Embellishing tones can be grouped into three categories, which we describe below.reproduces Maria Szymanowska’s March no. 6, which we also saw in
In nearly all cases, an embellishing tone is the middle note of a three-note gesture in which the first and last notes are consonant with the bass (). The actual embellishing tone itself may be either consonant or dissonant with the bass. In almost all cases, however, the embellishing tone is a note that doesn’t belong to the underlying chord.
Category 1: Embellishing tones that move by step
showed the two kinds of embellishing tones that move by step: and . Passing tones are approached by step and left by step in the same direction, either ascending or descending ( ). Neighbor tones are approached by step and left by step in the opposite direction, producing either an upper neighbor or a lower neighbor ( ).
Category 2: Embellishing tones that involve a leap
and show the two kinds of embellishing tones that involve a leap: and . Appoggiaturas are approached by leap and left by step in the opposite direction ( ). The appoggiatura typically occurs on a stronger part of the beat than its surrounding notes. Escape tones are approached by step and left by leap in the opposite direction ( ). The escape tone typically occurs on a weaker part of the beat than its surrounding notes. It is more common for appoggiaturas and escape tones to be left by motion downward ( and ) than upward ( and ).
Category 3: Embellishing tones involving static notes
show three of the four kinds of embellishing tones that involve static notes (i.e., notes that don’t move): , , and . A fourth kind of embellishing tone, the anticipation, deserves special comment below.
Suspensions are approached by a static note and left by step down, while retardations are approached by a static note and left by step up (chapter on fourth species counterpoint.)and ). Both suspensions and retardations are always on a stronger part of the beat than the surrounding notes. (Suspensions are discussed in greater detail in the
Pedal tones are often found in the bass. They consist of a series of static notes below chord changes that do not include the bass. We typically label them using the scale degree number of the pedal note, as in.
(a) Suspension and (b) retardation in a two-voice texture.
Pedal tone in Josephine Lang’s “Dem Königs-Sohn,” mm. 16–18.
Like the suspension, retardation, and pedal tone, also involve static notes. But anticipations are a two-note (rather than three-note) gesture, in which a chord tone is heard early as a non-chord tone (). In other words, it “anticipates” its upcoming membership in a chord.
The table inprovides a summary of the embellishing tones covered in this chapter.
|Category||Embellishing Tone||Approached by||Left by||Direction||Additional Detail|
|Involving steps||Passing Tone (PT)||Step||Step||Same||May ascend or descend|
|Neighbor Tone (NT)||Step||Step||Opposite||Both upper and lower exist|
|Involving a leap||Appoggiatura (APP)||Leap||Step||Opposite||Appoggiatura is usually on a strong part of the beat|
|Escape Tone (ET)||Step||Leap||Opposite||Escape tone is usually on a weaker part of the beat|
|Involving static notes||Suspension||Static note||Step||Down||Suspension is always on a stronger part of the beat|
|Retardation||Static note||Step||Up||Retardation is always on a stronger part of the beat|
|Pedal Tone ([latex]\hatx[/latex] Ped)||Static note||Static note||N/A|
|Anticipation (ANT)||N/A||Static note||N/A||The anticipation is usually on a weaker part of the beat|
- Embellishing tones (.pdf, .docx). Asks students to write embellishing tones in a two-voice texture and label embellishing tones in an excerpt.
- Generic_Embellishing_Tone_Layout © John Peterson is licensed under a CC BY-SA (Attribution ShareAlike) license
A type of motion where a chord tone moves by step to another tone, then resolves by step in the same direction. For example, C–D–E above a C major chord would be an example of neighboring motion, in which D can be described as a passing tone. Entire harmonies may be said to be passing when embellishing another harmony, when the voice-leading between the two chords involves mainly passing tones (as in the passing 6/4 chord).
Embellishing tones that are approached by step and left by step in the opposite direction.
An embellishing tone often occurring on a strong beat that is approached by leap and left by step in the opposite direction.
An embellishing tone that is approached by step and left by leap in the opposite direction.
An embellishing tone that is approached via static note and left by step down. The suspension is on a strong part of the beat.
An embellishing tone that is approached by static note and left by step up. The retardation is on a stronger part of the beat.
Pedal tones are often found in the bass. They consist of a series of static notes over top of which chord changes occur that do not include the bass.
A two-note embellishing tone gesture in which a chord tone is heard early as a non-chord tone.
Notes that decorate other, more structurally important notes. Embellishing tones are often not part of the prevailing chord. Types of embellishing tones include passing tones, neighbor tones, appoggiaturas, escape tones, pedal tones, suspensions, and anticipations.