Passing Tones: Lee Evans



 I have learned music theory from one of my favorites, Lee Evans. He wrote an article in one of my Jazz Magazines about melodic embellishment and ornamentation in jazz. The content is divided into four categories. I wanted to share it with all of my many readers who have asked me about passing tones.

1. Weak beat ornaments


2. Strong or weak beat ornaments


3. Other ornamental devices


4. Combinations of devices from the above 3 categories

So, let's talk about weak beat ornaments. In the examples, I'm talking about single notes and the note highlighted in red is what I'm talking about.

Passing Tone - a chromatic tone between two adjacent scale tones. In traditional usage, half or whole step scale notes which, in a melody, pass between the tones of a triad or chord are sometimes referred to as passing tones. Only half-step tones occurring between adjacent scale notes will be called passing tones in this article.

Example: C to C# to D, then D, Db, C.

Anticipation Tone - an anticipation tone between two adjacent scale tones.

Example: C to D, D or E, D to D

Echappee - a tone occurring between two adjacent scale tones, the motion to the ornamenting tone being contrary to the motion between the scale tones.

Example: C, B to D then C, D, B

Cambiata - a tone occurring between two adjacent scale tones, the motion to the ornamenting tone being the same as the motion between the scale tones.

Example: C, A, B then C, E, D


Neighbor Tone (upper or lower) - a half or whole-step tone occurring between two of the same tones.

Example: C, C#, C and C, D, C. C, Bb, C then C, B, C

For the strong or weak beat ornament:

Jazz Appoggiatura - a leaping tone (an interval larger than a 3rd) which then moves a major or minor 2nd in the opposite direction. (Note that a jazz appoggiatura is a melodic embellishment that does not take into consideration the harmonic or rhythmic implications of the traditional appoggiatura.

Example: C, Gb, F then C, F#, G to C, G, F and C, F, G

Regarding ornamental devices:

Grace Note - an ornamental tone whose time value is not counted in the rhythm.

Example: B to C and D to C

Repeated Tone

Example: F to E (original motive) then F, F to E (repeated tone embellishment)

Tremelo - the rapid alternation of two tones.

Example: C to E, (tremelo) play C, E, C tremelo embellishment (in fragmentation)

Scale Tones - tones found in any scale other than the chromatic scale. (Chromatic  scale tones would be heard as passing tones.)

Example: C to G (original motive) then C, E, F, G (scale tone embellishment)


Chord Tones - tones outlining any chord, including altered chords.

Example: C to C (original motive) then, C, E, G, A, C c(chord tone embellishment)

Free Tone - an ornamental tone having no relationship to any chord being sounded.

Example: G (G7/D), to F# then C

I think that's tons of information for now. There's so many combination examples to write out that I'll skip the final part but you get the idea. Here are some more related former posts:

Passing-chords

Neighboring-tones

Passing-tones

Three-steps-to-passing-chords

Until next time, be sure and stop by and take a look at this music resource, Song Robot







"The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you." B.B.King
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