Chapter Six

Chord Progression

Deciding how to harmonize a piece of music is not always simple. There is nothing wrong with using cheat sheets in music. The following table should be referenced when you are deciding on a chord progression.


Triads for Harmonizing Degrees

1 (8)

I, vi, IV


ii, vii, V


iii, I, vi


IV, ii, vii


V, iii, I


vi, IV, ii


vii, V, iii

Nonharmonic Tones: So far we have discussed harmonic tones. For example, the IV chord in the key of C has the tones F, C, and A. What happens when you introduce non harmonic tones in a melody. There are numerous types of nonharmonic tones and we will provide a brief description of each one.

Passing Tone: Tones that occur between chords in a stepwise or tiered fashion are passing tones. Passing tones are always surrounded by chords and proceed in a stepwise fashion.

Neighboring Tone: A neighboring tone is a nonharmonic tone that is between two identical harmonic tones.

Suspension: A good picture tells a thousand words, and we will start with an example to show a suspension.

Midi File for Suspension Example

The chord in the first measure is G. The chord in the second measure is D. However, the tone B was held from the G chord while F sharp and A were played in the D chord. The D chord was completed with D as a resolution note.

Escape Tone: The escape tone occurs on a unaccented beat and does not return to the chord tone preceding the escape tone, rather it jumps to another chord tone.

Anticipation: An advance sounding of a chord tone is anticipation.

Midi File

The above nonharmonic tones occur frequently in all types of music. Students are encouraged to review sheet music and identify the various nonharmonic tones.

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