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Nonchord tone

A nonchord tone is a tone in a piece of homophonic music which is not in the chord that is formed by the other tones playing and in most cases quickly resolves to a chord tone. For example, if a piece of music is currently on a C Major chord, the notes CEG form the chord, while any other note played at that time is a nonchord tone. Since nonchord tones are dissonances, in common practice they are allowed only as suspensionss, anticipations, passing tones, and upper and lower neighbor tones which then resolve.

While it is theoretically possible that for a three note chord in twelve tone equal temperament there are nine possible nonchord tones, nonchord tones are usually still in the key of the piece being played, having more than one nonchord tone quickly blurs their status as nonchord tones, and they must be used sparsely enough not to be felt as an added tone, a tone added to and therefor a part of the chord.

Another form of nonchord tones are pedal tones, or notes, almost always the tonic or dominant, which are held past the chord in which they originated. The difference between this and a suspension is that the pedal tone need not resolve or resolve to a neighboring tone immediately.

A suspended chord is an added tone chord with a "suspended" fourth or second as an added tone which doesn't resolve.