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#939318 - 10/05/04 12:09 PM Grace note question
pianoloverus Offline
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Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19202
Loc: New York City
If a grace note has a line through it, is there a convention about whether it is played on the beat or before the beat?

Thank you!!

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#939319 - 10/05/04 12:45 PM Re: Grace note question
divadeb Offline
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Registered: 09/16/04
Posts: 677
The little crossed out note is an "acciaccatura" which is Italian for "crushed". It should be played on the beat, essentially having no time value of it's own (although they are often treated as short, on the beat appogiaturas) The grace note that isn't crossed out is an "appogiatura", which means "to lean". It's supposed to have 1/2 the value of the note it preceeds. I don't that you hear them precisely that too often :-)
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#939320 - 10/05/04 03:29 PM Re: Grace note question
pianoloverus Offline
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Thank you!!

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#939321 - 10/06/04 02:34 PM Re: Grace note question
boliverallmon Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/01/04
Posts: 13
i always thought you played grace notes before the beat. therefore the piece will stay in time.

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#939322 - 10/07/04 06:53 AM Re: Grace note question
divadeb Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/04
Posts: 677
The correct execution of grace notes does vary according to the period/style of the particular piece. However, the "crossed out" grace note that was asked about is always played as an acciaccatura. Groups of grace notes are often played before the beat and are really just written out mordents,turns or trills. Sort of Ornamentation for Dummies.

Single grace notes (the kind that aren't crossed through) are almost always appogiaturas, played on the beat to emphasize the dissonance that the main note then resolves, creating the "leaning into" effect that the name of the ornament implies. You lean into the "crunch interval" and then relax back to the consonance of the main note.

Grace notes, whether played before or on the beat, do not effect the rhythmic constancy or tempo of the piece. If you add the value of the little notes to the big notes, you get too many beats. Grace notes have no instrinsic time value of their own, their duration is by necessity subtracted from the note they are intended to ornament, or in some cases, the note preceeding the ornamented note.

Having a good feel for the differences in style of ornamentation typical to specific musical periods takes time and a lot of listening. Some printed editions will contain more clues than others about how an ornament is best played.
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#939323 - 10/08/04 02:14 PM Re: Grace note question
fnork Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/04
Posts: 1682
Loc: Helsinki, finland
I heard that when Mozart wrote music, he used crossed out notes when these notes were played on the beat and they weren't in the chord the left-hand played. Like playing a D in an a-minor chord. Look at the first measures of "Rondo alla turka", and you'll see what I mean.
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#939324 - 10/08/04 04:13 PM Re: Grace note question
divadeb Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/04
Posts: 677
Yes...it's an acciaccatura. "Crush" the little dissonant note, lift it quickly and let the consonant notes continue sounding. (Some people say "SQUISH it" to give little kids a feel for how to correctly play an acciacatura...play it on the beat on "SQUISH" and lift just the crossed out note on "it"...if you teach that, emphasize that "SQUISH" has gotta be pretty short for it to sound right. Mozart's pretty easy to figure out. When he wanted an ornament to sound before the beat, he generally wrote it that way.
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Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig.

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#939325 - 10/10/04 03:04 PM Re: Grace note question
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19202
Loc: New York City
Another question about acciaccaturas. I played two Chopin Waltzes as part of a little recital I gave at my Gramdmother's 105th birthday party last summer. In the middle sectin of the Minute Waltz, playing the acciaccaturas the way you suggested sounds completely right and was the way I played it before I knew there was a rule. But in the Op. 64 C# minor Waltz, playing the the acciaccaturas on the beat sounds completely wrong to me! Whatdo you think?

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#939326 - 10/11/04 10:34 AM Re: Grace note question
divadeb Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/04
Posts: 677
I think that one depends a lot on the tempo you play the piece. The faster it is, the less separation between the ornament and the main note, the more "crushed" it sounds. I like it slower myself...and I still play it as an acciaccatura, but (boy, is this gonna sound stupid ;\) )more of a "boing" than a "squish". :rolleyes:

Remember that waltzes really have one big beat in a measure. All those ornamented notes fall on "2" if you count "1, 2, 3", which is an unaccented beat. In order not to place to much emphasis on the offbeat (screws up the waltzers)you don't want to transfer too much weight to a note that preceeds it, I think...that's monkeying around with the internal part of the beat to a point where the over-all feeling of the waltz rhythm would be difficult to maintain. Your best bet on some of these trickier ornaments is to listen to a bunch of recordings. Amazon makes that pretty easy for the more common pieces, such as this waltz...you can hear almost everyone who's ever recorded it play those very measures and pick the one you like best. The "rules" for ornamentation get much less strict the further along the musical time-line you go. What is "always" true in the baroque period can be "almost always" true in the classical period, "sometimes" true in the Romantic period and "whuht-ever" in more contemporary pieces.

What a rotten explanation I just gave! I like challenging questions...in teaching, you have to communicate thoughts. Thank God I don't have to WRITE all of those thoughts down for my students!!!
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