This Prelude and Fugue for organ has two ornaments in it, and those two ornaments, in the Urtext, are the same:

In the middle of the Prelude (please excuse the score markings, and the "lighter" had to do with the organ), and at the end of the Prelude (it's not a literal "rit"):

enter image description here enter image description here

You'll notice the ornaments in the upper right hand corners of the scanned images, which are not in Bach's guide of ornamentation... has anyone a clue on how to play these or knows more about the issue?

3 Answers 3


They look very much like the second ornament on the bottom line of the guide (idem), and I have heard them played like that. Of course, they look shorter, like a combination of that "uphook" and the mordent. With this interpretation you could also play the first one as B-A#-G#-A#, especially if your tempo is faster. I think I prefer the more finalizing effect of the longer trill, though, especially at the end of the piece.


Think of the "Explication" as illustrating a Lego assembly kit of symbols for the start, middle, and end of ornaments. In your example the "hook" at the start means a 4-note turn, B A# G# A# in your first example, as shown in the two examples labelled "idem". This is followed by a "mordant", i.e. A# G# A#. Dovetailing them together you get a sextuplet, B A# G# A# G# A#. Or since the note is short, you could telescope the two parts together into just four notes, B A# G# A#.

The Bach-Gesellschaft edition just has a "mordant" (see http://imslp.org/wiki/Prelude_and_Fugue_in_G_major,_BWV_541_(Bach,_Johann_Sebastian), but Baroque ornaments tend to start on the upper note unless there is a good reason no to, and it makes good musical sense here to start with B rather than play just the three notes A# G# A#.


If you are talking about the wavy line with a vertical line intersecting it, then it's a little complicated. It looks partly like a lower mordent but as far as I understand, in the baroque era, according to the AB Guide to Music theory, "Other symbols were sometimes attached to the beginning or end of a wavy line to show decorated starts or finishes to a trill, but after the baroque period these were gradually superseded by grace notes or even written out in full." enter image description here

not sure if this helps though. I'm guessing you combine elements of both a lower mordent and a trill in your case, basically in a fashion similar to the second example in the image.

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