• Manuel Diewald

Non-Chord Tone Series: Anticipation

My name is Manuel Diewald and I am a Sydney-based guitar teacher in West Pennant Hills with a B.Mus. (Hons) (First) in Music Pedagogy from The University of New South Wales (UNSW).


In this Non-Chord Tone Series, we are going to talk about what an anticipation in music is. An anticipation is a technique used when a Non-Chord Tone from one harmony is used which is then repeated in the next bar where it is now used as a Chord Tone. In the example below we can see that in the first bar we have a C major harmony. The two melodic notes are C and B with the latter being our Non-Chord Tone. This note B is then repeated in the next bar, however, it is now used as a Chord Tone since the harmony has changed to G major where B is the 3rd degree, G-B-D.





A couple of important factors to consider when noticing anticipations in the music you are playing is that the Non-Chord Tone must be approached by a step and that is resolves to the same note. In the example above, if the B did not resolve to a B again, this would not be considered an anticipation.


It is useful to understand where these compositional techniques occur on the music as they help us determine how we want to add musicality to the music we are playing. If we take the example above, the first B we play in bar one in the C major harmony would in my opinion be played softer and with less of an emphasis compared to the second B that is played in the second bar in the G major harmony. The second B would then be played slightly louder and with a bit more of an accent, bringing out the emphasis in the music that we have arrived now to the resolution. This is not the only or correct way to approach this compositional technique as it is up to the player to decide how they feel when they see and listen to this section of the music. This can depend on the tempo, genre, style, and era of the music.

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