On one of the songs I'm writing, I have a few notes played on the end of one measure, finishing in the second one.

Here it is:

These three notes being played really fast, I don't want to use an arpeggiated chord symbol.

What can I use instead of this to make the sheet look less crappy?

  • 4
    Yeah that is not an arpeggio, not just "technically" but really. May 7, 2018 at 13:03
  • 1
    Indeed, but I actually don't know the technical term :3 Please propose a better one, I'll edit the post (english isn't my mother tongue), thanks :)
    – Shawn H.
    May 7, 2018 at 15:21

3 Answers 3


I'd go with grace notes, they are not counted in the rhythm, so you don't need to fiddle with the unreadable rest durations. Also, they are supposed to be played very fast. I provide several options with different meanings. The middle one is mostly understood and meant to be played as arpeggios where the g in the second arpeggio is not kept.

enter image description here

LilyPond code, just in case you used this software, is based on \afterGrace:

\version "2.18.2"

\paper { tagline = ##f }

\score { <<
    \new Voice { \relative g' {
        r4 <a g>2 \afterGrace r4 { f'16( g }
    } }
>> }

\score { <<
    \new Voice { \relative g' {
        \afterGrace r4 { g16( } <a g>2) \afterGrace r4 { f'16( g }
        <a f>4.)
    } }
>> }

\score { <<
    \new Voice { \relative g' {
        \afterGrace r4 { g16( } a2) \afterGrace r4 { f'16( g }
    } }
>> }
  • Also I'd consider making the stacked G and A into a grace note tied to an A as well to keep it consistent. Also it just makes more sense because it's not really supposed to be an arpeggio, it's not a chord
    – MCMastery
    May 7, 2018 at 2:48
  • 1
    @MCMastery That's a good point, I'll provide couple more versions.
    – yo'
    May 7, 2018 at 11:16

An appoggiatura may do it, except the notes involved need a bit of time to play - that's what it's about.

An acciaccatura is probably a better bet, though, as is theoretically timeless. It actually means 'crushing in'. The notes will look like miniature versions of the proper notes, but on the correct lines/spaces. They can be played just before the 1st beat, or just on it, depending, to a degree, on interpretation.

There is another far simpler way, though, consisting of a squiggly line signifying an arpeggio. It's not actually an arpeggio as we normally play one, as the notes don't constitute a chord, but it'll still get played starting with the lowest going up. Problem is, each note ought to be held until the last one (the melody note) is played. Since it's very quick, it may not matter too much. Although you say you don't want this.

So it'll depend on how fast you want them played, really. Appoggiatura or acciaccatura. Long words for such short notes...


The grace-note answer is the right answer to your question as you posed it, but your approach isn't as wrong as you think.

There are times when a composer explicitly does not want grace notes, but actually does something like what you have here. The composer may do this for a few reasons. Perhaps, the composer doesn't want to de-emphasize the structural importance of the notes (which grace notes do), or just wants to emphasize that the rhythms must be precise. In both of these cases, the grace notes will get explicitly written out.

This is also exactly the sort of situation where multiple dots are used (and warranted). We are at the end of a measure, and we are just filling in space for the last two 128th notes. So, rather than using a dotted 8th followed by a dotted 32nd, you would normally use a triple-dotted eighth rest.

"What?" I hear you cry. "Triple-dotted notes?"

Multiple dots are usually avoided because they are confusing, but when they are used just before the end of a measure with some very small notes, they actually trigger a mental shortcut for strong readers.

A multitude of dots redirect the attention of a competent reader away from the rest itself, and tells the reader to just calculate the duration of the final notes by subtracting the final notes from the time of the next downbeat instead of by counting forward from the previous downbeat. Sometimes, the first technique is easier, and having many dots is a way to let a professional level sight-reader quickly know that that is the best approach.

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