Music theory is a vast subject with many intricate concepts to understand. One such concept that often confuses students is the idea of an incomplete neighbor. Let’s dive into what an incomplete neighbor is, and how it can be used in music.

What Is an Incomplete Neighbor?

An incomplete neighbor is a type of non-chord tone that occurs when a note in a melody moves stepwise away from a chord tone, but then returns to the same chord tone without going through the full intervallic distance. In other words, it’s when a note jumps up or down by one scale degree and then immediately goes back to the original note.

Types of Incomplete Neighbors

There are two types of incomplete neighbors: upper and lower. An upper incomplete neighbor occurs when the non-chord tone moves up to the neighboring scale degree before returning to the original chord tone. A lower incomplete neighbor occurs when the non-chord tone moves down to the neighboring scale degree before returning to the original chord tone.

How to Identify an Incomplete Neighbor

To identify an incomplete neighbor, you need to first determine what chord you are dealing with. Once you know which chord is being played, listen for any notes in the melody that do not fit in with that particular chord. If you hear a note that doesn’t fit, it’s likely that you have found an incomplete neighbor.

Examples of Incomplete Neighbors

Let’s take a look at some examples of incomplete neighbors in action:

How Incomplete Neighbors Are Used in Music

Incomplete neighbors are used to add tension and interest to a melody. They create a momentary dissonance that resolves quickly back into consonance, which can make the melody more engaging for the listener.

Conclusion

In summary, an incomplete neighbor is a type of non-chord tone that occurs when a note in a melody moves stepwise away from a chord tone, but then returns to the same chord tone without going through the full intervallic distance. There are two types of incomplete neighbors: upper and lower. Incomplete neighbors are used to add tension and interest to a melody by creating momentary dissonance that resolves quickly back into consonance.