[Smt-talk] The Concept of Appoggiatura

Victor grauer victorag at verizon.net
Tue Oct 23 06:23:13 PDT 2012

At 09:11 PM 10/22/2012, Karen Sunabacka wrote:
>I teach from the Horton/Ritchey "Harmony Through Melody" music 
>theory text. In this textbook the appoggiatura is always an accented 
>dissonance. The textbook describes the appoggiature as "an 
>unprepared accented dissonance: though it resolves by step, it is 
>approached by a leap." (p357)

As I understand it, an appoggiatura is not so much an accented 
dissonance as an emphasized dissonance. What's essential is not so 
much how it is approached, but the fact that it is initially heard as 
a dissonant chord tone, with the dissonance then "explaining itself 
away" through stepwise resolution. A passing tone is just that, a 
dissonance en passant, "in passing," i.e., a dissonance NOT heard as 
a chord tone, but as an intermediate from one chord tone to another. 
Thus I would not call a passing tone an appoggiatura even if it 
appeared on the accented part of a beat. However, a prolonged 
dissonance approached stepwise from a chord tone and resolved 
setpwise in either direction, WOULD be heard as an appoggiatura, and 
should be so designated, and not called a "passing tone."

I feel this is an important distinction, because the appoggiatura has 
an important role to play in the history of harmony, while the 
passing tone does not.

Victor Grauer
Pittsburgh, PA, USA

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