According to wikipedia, anti-accents: accents that tell you to play a note softer than the surrounding notes, which are indicated by a breve (slightly softer), parentheses (significantly softer) and brackets (much softer), are used in percussion music. But if you compose a piano piece, are you allowed to use these anti-accents? Are they just rare for piano pieces? Or are you not allowed to use them?


There are anti-accents in piano-pieces by Schönberg and Kurtag. E.g.:

  • Schönberg - Klavierstücke op.23, #5, Walzer, bar 68
  • Kurtag - Jatekok
  • That's interesting. Do you know which? – Stallmp Jan 6 '18 at 12:50
  • Why is he wrong? He simply said that he has never seen it, not that it is never used. – Stallmp Jan 6 '18 at 14:49
  • @tommsch I don't believe it's accurate to say that my answer is "wrong," unless you are stating that I am mistaken in what I have seen. If I had meant to suggest that there are no anti-accents, I would have done more than suggest it. However, perhaps I might have mentioned that they are at least very uncommon. Perhaps also a more accurate (and less abrasive, I might add) choice of words on your part is that your answer is "more correct" than mine, which I freely grant. – BobRodes Jan 7 '18 at 20:39
  • @BobRodes. You're right. My words were not very friendly and I apologize. – tommsch Jan 7 '18 at 21:01

Anti-accents (or 'ghost notes') are not commonly used in piano music. So, of course you're 'allowed' to use them, but it would be sensible to add an explanatory note.


I've never seen them in piano music. Although I can't remember where (was it Prokofiev who liked to do it?), I have seen an "sp" written on a particular beat, to mean "subito piano." Perhaps you can use that. You could examine Beethoven's habit of writing "sf" over various notes for the opposite effect; I suspect that most pianists' familiarity with his music would make your intent pretty obvious.

  • Okay thanks ! I have never seen sp before, but I believe it's much more common than a ghost note / anti-accent. – Stallmp Jan 5 '18 at 8:41
  • @Stallmp You're very welcome. I have my degree in piano, have looked over thousands of pages of piano music, and have never seen the "ghost note" notation anywhere. sp isn't common, but I'm sure I've seen it. – BobRodes Jan 6 '18 at 1:02
  • I think that Beethoven used p (subito) before right? But this did not affect just one beat, but the entire measure / staff. – Stallmp Jan 6 '18 at 8:34
  • @BobRodes: See my answer: There are anti-accents in piano music - not in Beethoven, but in music after 1900. – tommsch Jan 6 '18 at 14:20
  • @tommsch That doesn't surprise me, and thanks for pointing it out. My study of Schönberg is limited to a fairly superficial look at the Op. 11 Klavierstücke, and I'm unfamiliar with Kurtag's music. That sort of music is, if I may say so, on the fringes of my cup of tea. – BobRodes Jan 7 '18 at 20:25

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