I just found a Bach score, and there is this squiggly line above the A eighth note in the first measure (and a few other places). This is the score. What does it mean?


That is a trill, not a mordent. It actually starts on the upper auxiliary. The table below is from the Clavier-Büchlein vor Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, i.e., it is Bach's own. You can read more about it here.

This a duplicate of this question.

enter image description here

  • 4
    It only has meaning in how it is played, Jacob. It's called a trill and it's played as one. – user16935 Jun 26 '15 at 4:41
  • it actually does look like a mordent (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mordent) and not a trill (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trill_(music)). – Jacob Swanson Jun 26 '15 at 4:45
  • My pleasure. The thing to remember about the Baroque is that ornaments using the upper auxiliary (when they weren't sliding up to it from beneath the principal note) tended to act like appoggiature: they almost always started on the dissonance. – user16935 Jun 26 '15 at 5:05
  • Thanks for correcting me on that. I deleted my incorrect answer that said it was a mordant. It's confusing how Bach used symbols differently than we do now! – Nick B. Jun 26 '15 at 15:07
  • @NickB., blame the Romantics for that one. It was pretty much in their time that trills and trill variants that commence on the main note rather than the auxiliary became the norm. ;) – user16935 Jun 26 '15 at 15:53

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.