A couple weeks back I got into piano and now after synesthesia experiments and learning basic stuff. I'm trying to teach myself reading music scores correctly. Went smooth till this presented below happen.

  1. Is mysterious eighth note that doesn't add up. If I'm counting correctly it's 1/4 + 1/4 + THIS 1/8 + 1/4 + 1/8 + 1/8 = 1 + (1/8), so it adds up without this note. Not sure what to do with this.

  2. I'm not sure how quarter notes and eighth notes can be joined like that. Can they? And if so, can someone point me to some explanatory resources or keywords that I can read further? And it also does not sum up for me correctly

So I guess that I'm missing something in my learning how to read this. But done a basic course, download basic sheets and trying to figure it out. Keywords or links will be much appreciated 🙏

Music Sheet with marked notes


The small notehead with the eighth-note tail and slashed stem is a type of grace note named an acciaccatura, a crushed note, one you squeeze in just before the following note, which still occurs on the beat.

In the second highlighted bar, on the second beat you play C and E quarter notes, and also play the eighth notes B then A. The notation with sticks up/sticks down is for clarity. If the eighth notes also has sticks up it would look worse and be harder to read. Like lots of notation, there are visual clues. You need to look at more than just the noteheads.

  • 1
    The small eighth note with the slash is sometimes used to notate appoggiatura, which in the baroque period typically had half the duration of the main note, or two thirds if the main note was dotted. Interpreting that notation therefore requires awareness of the musical context. – phoog Jun 12 '20 at 14:50
  • @phoog - with the slash is acciaccatura. Without it it's appoggiatura. – Tim Jun 12 '20 at 15:39
  • @Tim yet one still sees baroque music where the grace note has a slash. The acciaccatura did not exist in baroque music. Therefore, one needs to interpret. Music notation is not an exact science, as much as some would like it to be. – phoog Jun 12 '20 at 15:45
  • @phoog - I stand corrected - don't see much original Baroque music! Something new each day - thanks! – Tim Jun 12 '20 at 15:51
  • @Tim I don't think I've seen it in original baroque music. It was probably an edition from the late 19th century or the first half of the 20th. Unfortunately I do not remember which piece -- it was years ago. Perhaps it was a fault of the editor, whether of carelessness or misinterpretaton. – phoog Jun 12 '20 at 16:20

Acciaccatura has been covered. It has no real length value of its own - hence it's written using a small dot. It doesn't count towards the (already) 4 beats in that bar.

The quavers are written as a separate voice, with their stems going in a different direction to show that. Imagine one instrument playing the up stems, and another the downstems. It would have been possible to write that bar with all upstems, but it would be played subtly differently. Doing that would mean the 3 notes would all stop as the A note is played. The composer didn't want that - he wanted the C and E to continue while the A was played. Only way to write that simply is how it is.


Welcome :-)

  1. A grace note.
  2. Not sure what's going on there, so I leave that one for others who may provide a much better answer. Looks like an additional voice, as indicated by the notes being drawn "upside down" compared to the other notes.

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