• Manuel Diewald

Non-Chord Tone Series: Escape Tone

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).

Continuing on with this Non-Chord Tone series we are looking at the Escape Tone. So what is an escape tone?

An escape tone is when a non-chord tone is approached by a step and resolved by a leap. Just to clarify, since this whole chord tone series has talked mainly about steps, a leap is when the distance between two notes is more than a tone. If we look at the example below we can see that the note D is a minor third from the note B which it resolves to. This is important to note because that is what makes this compositional technique unique of an escape tone.

If we look a bit further into the example below we can see that the first chord is in C major with the note D being our non-chord tone since it does not belong to our C major triad. The D then resolves to our note B which is now part of the G major chord in the next bar. The C and B are chord tones in relation to the harmony of the music though the D is not which is why it is our non-chord tone.

See if you can go through the music you are playing and identify any escape tones. Take note and listen to how they sound, what emotions and feelings they portray, and whether you think it is a useful compositional technique.