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There's a technique I've seen used a lot in jazz, gospel, pop singing, etc. where someone will play a note and play a quick semitone up and back down into another note. Heres an audio example. Does this technique have a name? If so, what is it called? I've heard the term "mordent" before but I don't think that's what I'm talking about.

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  • Is there any reason not to consider this a short trill? – user3235 Apr 16 at 21:33
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    Yes, because it doesn't consider of 2 notes repeated several times. – Bennyboy1973 Apr 16 at 22:39
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One of the terms is "lower neighbor." This is a bit more general than terms as the lower neighbor need not be just an ornament. It's a non-chord tone played (usually a half-step) below the main tone. A mordent is the main note, a neighbor (upper or lower), and the main note again. ("Mordent" is used for one and "inverted mordent" for the other; different authors use the terms differently.)

The lower auxiliary can be used as an ornament or even be accented and be part of the melody without disturbing the underlying harmony.

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  • Notes played are ABAG, DEDC, so no semitones used. Don't think there's a term for it, as the terms are from classical, and this isn't a classical trn. – Tim Apr 17 at 12:09
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I'd say these are mordents, since they start and return to the same note. The audio example is closest to the first group in the picture.

enter image description here

However, jazz has so many quick patterns that it might just be better to call them grace notes: enter image description here

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    A mordent goes corresponding to the actual scale. In my example I'm specifically talking about a quick semitone up. – user77466 Apr 17 at 1:55
  • That's not what was played in the example. A quick semitone up is just called a grace note. – Bennyboy1973 Apr 17 at 2:49
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    That's not what I mean. Lets take C major, a mordent on D would go up to E. But in my example the D goes up to an Eb. Would that still be a mordent if it is a semitone instead of a whole tone? – user77466 Apr 18 at 3:07
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The classical term is "mordents" but jazz musicians usually call these embellishments "turns". Often the higher note, is a semitone higher than the main, and the following note one step lower, but there are other possible constellations.

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Those are called grace notes.

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