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I am currently playing in a baroque group. The question has arisen as to how long an appoggiatura should be in triple or compound meters.

According to Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appoggiatura),

The time subtracted is generally half the time value of the principal note, though in simple triple or compound meters, for example, it might receive two thirds of the time.

Is there a "rule" as to when it should receive one third of the time, and when two thirds?

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Although I don't play in Baroque ensembles, my experience with Baroque keyboard music tells me that the appoggiatura takes up two-thirds of the value.

A discussion on Music Manuscript Notation in Bach seems to corroborate this:

The appoggiatura takes half the time of the following note, except when followed by a dotted note. It then usually takes two-thirds of the value of the note.

Thus the appoggiatura (the non-chord tone itself) takes two-thirds of the value, and the chord tone to which it resolves only occupies the final one-third of the value.

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  • Thanks very much! It seems intuitively strange to me, but maybe that's just because I'm taking the notation too literally, rather than thinking about the musical importance. Apr 17, 2017 at 4:21
  • "Thus the appoggiatura (the non-chord tone itself) takes two-thirds of the value, and the chord tone to which it resolves only occupies the final one-third of the value." IMO this is too prescriptive. The actual length might be 2/3, 1/3, or even 1/6 or 1/12 of a long dotted note. It depends on the musical context, and what is happening in the rest of the harmony and/or counterpoint. In fact the appoggiatura can even take all of the written note, if that is followed by a rest which is replaced by the resolution of the ornament!
    – user19146
    Apr 17, 2017 at 15:10
  • I agree wholeheartedly. Later in the link I gave it says "a certain freedom may be allowed in the applicaton of these rules, to preserve the improvisatory character of the appoggiatura."
    – Richard
    Apr 17, 2017 at 15:11

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