I'm having a heck of a time wrapping my head around appoggiatura and acciaccatura and other grace note notations to achieve the performance I'm specifically looking for.

Notation as performed

The image above represents how I'd like this chord performed (but it's ugly AF). In short the grace note should be crushed ON the beat and quickly resolve to the fifth. This is why I selected the acciaccatura as my symbol as shown in the score below:

Notation as desired

Based on everything I've read recently (to my shame, I should know this stuff) this isn't quite right, but neither is the appoggiatura either. This is further confirmed by how MuseScore performs the second version (plays the grace note ON the beat but also delays the bottom note to strike at the same time as the resolved fifth).

Is my notation (with the additional text) okay or is there a more clear / more accurate notation I should use to better convey my intention, short of explicitly writing that really ugly but accurate notation in the first example (this is for a kids/beginner piece so should try not to look too intimidating, but still be correct)?

  • 3
    In the second version what happens in MuseScore if you use an appoggiatura and have different stems for the F and C?
    – JimM
    Sep 9, 2021 at 15:16

1 Answer 1

  1. Technically, the difference between on- and before-the-beat graces is the slash through the stem, so I would print it without the slash. But this is abused or overlooked often enough in typesetting that I think adding the textual comment is wise; without it the performer might either unthinkingly play before the beat or conclude that there should have been a slash. (Especially if this is a kids' piece, they might not know about appoggiatura vs acciaccatura, let alone be able to say/spell them).
  2. You're not really describing true appoggiatura; if you were, as a performer, I might be tempted to play the grace as an entire eighth note. You might consider printing it as a 16th-note or even 32nd-note grace.
  3. As to the issue of getting the F into the grace, maybe just write it that way, adding an F to the grace and tying to the main note. I agree that, without this, a performer might only play the F with the C (though common sense would probably cause them to play it on the beat with the B). JimM's advice in the comment might be even better: split the main note into two voices, with stem down for the F: Now even if the grace is only a B, the performer would almost certainly play the F on the beat (even if MuseScore doesn't). I think this solution would be clearest for humans.
  4. What's so bad about notating as a 64th? Unless you want a degree of rubato and performer's liberty about length. (And of course that it makes the kiddos learn about 64th notes.)
  5. Don't make your decisions based too much on a notation software's playback. It's only as smart as its programming.
  6. Just so we're clear, using the B natural as a lower neighbor is more appropriate than the C flat.
  • 2
    I've somehow never heard that about the slashes! Do you have a source for that? I'd also be curious if you'd be interested in answering Grace notes: when are they played on the beat, and when are they played off?
    – Richard
    Sep 9, 2021 at 15:30
  • Sure; from the wikipedia page for Grace note, "When occurring by itself, a single grace note indicates either an acciaccatura when notated with an oblique stroke through the stem, or an appoggiatura when notated without." But NB the last clause translates to "If there's more than one, all bets are off." And the accepted answer on that SE also hits the nail on the head that it boils down to "It's complicated, and start by doing your best detective work to determine what the composer wanted." Sep 9, 2021 at 15:41
  • 1
    I like to play Mozart's violin concerto #4 with a big fat half-the-note appoggiatura, in defiance of the Romantic tradition of a crisp, military-salute acciaccatura. I can't remember the piece, but there's one where I even like to let the grace take 3/4 of the time from the main note (with the blessing of Gabriel Banat's introduction to the facsimile edition of the Mozart concertos ) Sep 9, 2021 at 15:50
  • 1
    @AndyBonner The first theme of the Goldberg Variations has a lot of this and a lot of variation in performance: contrast Glenn Gould's recording(s) vs Kimiko Ishizaka and you can see what I mean!
    – Tom Auger
    Sep 9, 2021 at 19:56
  • 1
    @AndyBonner Oh I'm mortified about the C-flat. For some reason that's MuseScore's go-to (its second choice was A++) and I was in a rush to take that screenshot. Even if it were enharmonically more correct, I'd still choose the B natural since it's aimed at younger/beginner players.
    – Tom Auger
    Sep 9, 2021 at 19:58

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