What are these and how do I play them on the piano? enter image description here

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    It's not that well written. There's no need to tie 2 quavers together in bar 7 where a crotchet will do.
    – Tim
    Commented Aug 4, 2016 at 18:37

4 Answers 4


What they are:

Based on your question, you just want to know how to play them. While there are theoretical squabblers, just ignore the people go super into the theory.

It turns out there are two types of these small notes, and they get confused a lot.

  1. Appoggiatura (no strike-through)
  2. Acciaccatura (strike-through) Also known as "Grace notes"

What you're seeing in that piece are Appoggiaturas. They aren't grace notes. A grace note is actually a slang term for 'Acciaccatura' note which has a strike through. An appoggiatura does not have any strikethroughs. This might sound complex, but it's actually very simple, let's break it down with pictures!



  • Small notation
  • No strike-through
  • Takes half value of connected note (longer value than Acciaccaturas) and played on beat

Acciaccaturas "Grace Notes":

Acciaccaturas "Grace Notes"

  • Small notation
  • Has a strike-through
  • Takes a VERY short value of the connected note (1/64th)
  • Can be played both on or before the beat depending on composer/context

TL:DR No strike through = half value, LONGER | Strike through = very short

I hope this helps! If it answers your question, please mark as answered to keep up with maintenance. :)

  • Could you please also extend info about whether acciaccaturas or appogiaturas take the accent from (i.e. are stronger than) the connected note? Just asking interested, assuming it does despite its size in print. Commented Dec 23, 2022 at 10:44

These are called grace notes. Some good, already-written answers on this site can be found at Different types of grace notes and What do these grace notes mean, and how do I sing them?


These are called appoggiaturas, which are a type of grace note. These should be played on the beat of the note that they precede, and will (usually) be played for half the length of the main note.

  • It's not an appoggiatura. Appoggiaturas are approached by a leap and resolved by a step.
    – Dom
    Commented Aug 4, 2016 at 16:46
  • Appoggiaturas generally resolve by step, though it isn't strictly essential. They certainly don't have to be approached by a leap. Anyway, we're confusing points of Baroque/early Classical style with the question of what that particular notation is called. They're called appoggiaturas.
    – Laurence
    Commented Aug 4, 2016 at 22:26

Technically they are appoggiaturas, to be played on the beat taking half the length of the main note. A melodic suspension. The ones with a slashed tail are acciaccaturas, to be played as a short decoration to the main note.

But as the musical "grammar" of the example shown is so haphazard, I wouldn't be too sure the composer had the slightest idea what he wanted!

  • It's not an appoggiatura. Appoggiaturas are approached by a leap and resolved by a step.
    – Dom
    Commented Aug 4, 2016 at 16:47
  • @Dom. I know that's how they are usually used but can you cite a source that says that it must be so? And if it is the case do you know what this - the OPs example grace note - is called?
    – JimM
    Commented Aug 6, 2016 at 21:22
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    Don't worry too much about the example score, it's musically illiterate. But Dom is falling into the old trap of thinking that theory commands. It merely describes. Appoggiaturas conventionally resolve by step. Approach by leap is less set in stone, even the relevant Wikipedia page offers an exception. Surely we can allow these examples the name "appoggiatura", even if they don't quite satisfy some old book of rules? henry43.co.uk/appog.PNG
    – Laurence
    Commented Aug 7, 2016 at 12:05
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    @LaurencePayne I'm not falling for any trap as when you call something X, it needs to be X. The ornament the appogitora is tightly coupled with the definition of it as a non harmonic tone which it always is aproched by leap and resolved by step in the opposite direction. No trap just a definition and misusing terminology is the reason why most people get really confused about theory and notation.
    – Dom
    Commented Aug 7, 2016 at 14:39
  • @LaurencePayne your examples along with the OPs are also missing the slur which is extremely important for an apporigtora .
    – Dom
    Commented Aug 7, 2016 at 14:44

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