An anticipation in music theory refers to a musical technique where a note is played before its expected time. This technique can be used in various ways to create tension, interest, and excitement in a piece of music.
How does it work?
When an anticipation is used, the note is played before the beat it’s supposed to fall on. For example, if a melody has a quarter note on beat two, an anticipation would play that same note slightly earlier, perhaps on the “and” of beat one. This can create a feeling of tension or surprise as the listener anticipates the expected note while hearing something else.
Types of Anticipations
There are two main types of anticipations: harmonic and melodic.
- Harmonic Anticipation: This type of anticipation involves playing a note from an upcoming chord before it actually occurs.
For example, if a song is in C major and moving to an F chord, an anticipation could play an E note (the third of the F chord) before the F chord actually happens.
- Melodic Anticipation: This type involves using an upcoming melody note before its expected time. For example, if a melody moves from D to C, an anticipation could play the C note slightly earlier.
Why Use Anticipations?
Anticipations can add interest and excitement to a piece of music by breaking away from expected patterns. They can be used to build tension or surprise listeners with unexpected notes. Anticipations also allow for more fluid transitions between chords or melodies.
Examples of Anticipations in Music
One famous example of an anticipation in music is found in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5.
In the first movement, there is a famous four-note motif that repeats throughout the piece. In the second repetition, Beethoven uses an anticipation to create tension and excitement. The expected note is a G, but instead, Beethoven plays an F# before resolving to the expected G.
Another example can be found in the song “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses. In the intro riff, guitarist Slash uses a harmonic anticipation by playing notes from upcoming chords before they actually occur.
Anticipations are a powerful tool in music theory that can add interest and excitement to a piece of music. By playing notes before their expected time, anticipations can create tension and surprise listeners with unexpected notes. Whether used in melody or harmony, anticipations allow for more fluid transitions between chords or melodies.