The following are bars 34 and 35 of Chopin's Waltz in A minor (op. posth.)

Chopin's Waltz in A minor bars 34 and 35

If I understand the notation correctly, the mordent in bar 34 should be played C#, D, C#. Why is it denoted differently than the appoggiatura in bar 35? Initially I thought that it's about the F# which is out of the key and there would be no way to denote it. But there's also bar 4 of the same piece:

Chopin's Waltz in A minor bar 4

In this case both notes are in the key so why is there an appoggiatura and not a mordent? Are both of them to be played in the same manner?

  • A matter of terminology: I would not call that an appoggiatura at all, not in the classical sense of the word. Not all small notes without strokes through them are appoggiaturas. I would call this a written-out mordent. It has been done to show the alignment with the bass part. Others may think differently.
    – user48353
    Apr 14, 2018 at 22:44
  • Interesting to confirm the ornaments are ultimately original. I don't read too much into the lack of pedal markings in the handwritten copy. Certainly not that it SHOULDN'T be pedalled.
    – Laurence
    Apr 15, 2018 at 17:09

2 Answers 2


You are correct, the notes played are the same in pitch. However, the timing is different.

Whilst the mordent aligns with the beat, the (double) appoggiatura is played slightly before the beat and the following principle note is on the beat.

Furthermore, the notes of the appoggiatura are as short as possible, and the following principle note is almost as long as it is printed.

(At least this is how I learned it in classical piano lessons. This might be different in jazz notation)

  • So if I were to press the sustain pedal on the beat, with mordent I would sustain the higher note whereas with appoggiatura it wouldn't be sustained?
    – Mateusz
    Apr 14, 2018 at 21:42
  • Yes, if you'd press the pedal in that bar 34 of your example on the first beat, C# and D would be sustained, while pressing the pedal on beat 1 in bar 35, E would be sustained, but not F#
    – Arsak
    Apr 14, 2018 at 21:55
  • @Arsak Actually you can argue that the double appoggiatura is a mordent written out and play it the same way which is on the beat. There are endless discussions on whether Chopins appoggiaturas should be played on the beat. I think they should. Mar 24, 2019 at 14:45

Who is the publisher, and are there notes in the front of the book. Sometimes there are a few pages of editorial notes in the front of music collections explaining some of these details. You may want to check that as well for more information. Pedaling is also often an editorial mark and not necessarily direct from the composer. In cases of pedaling, the ear is the most important tool. Consider what enhances the phrasing and keeps the harmony clear.

  • As the editor has been meticulous in noting that the slur on the apoggiaturas is editorial, I gusee the pedalling is original.
    – Laurence
    Apr 14, 2018 at 23:45
  • Could be. I have not bothered to pull out my Chopin books to take a look.
    – Heather S.
    Apr 14, 2018 at 23:51
  • Why guess when the original is readily available: imslp.nl/imglnks/usimg/f/f2/…
    – user48353
    Apr 14, 2018 at 23:57

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