# Notation: grace note played on the beat with a chord

I want to write a four note chord in which three notes are held but one note is played and released very quickly. The extra note is played on the beat with the rest of the chord so is not an acciaccatura or appoggiatura. How should I notate this?

If I write it as a normal chord but with different note durations it could look quite confusing depending on note durations and stem directions.

``````X: 1
K: C
L:1/2
%%score (T1 T2)
V:T1 clef=bass
V:T2 clef=bass
[V:T1] [D,,G,,D,]
[V:T2] _B,,,/8
``````

is understandable, but

``````X: 1
K: c
L:1/2
%%score (T1 T2)
V:T1 clef=bass stem=up
V:T2 clef=bass stem=up
[V:T1] [A,,/2E,G,]
[V:T2] C,/16
``````

isn't, however much you change the stem directions.

Ideally I'd like a solution that's achievable with pen and paper, musescore and/or lilypond.

• Also if someone can tell me how to get my ABCjs to work here that'd be great! Sep 5, 2019 at 11:17
• Well, you could generate the images and post them - more work, I know. Sep 5, 2019 at 11:27
• Without seeing your proposed implementations, I can suggest that you keep all notes on one stem and simply have, e.g., three half-notes on the left side and one staccato sixteenth on the right (with following rests optional) Sep 5, 2019 at 11:29
• @CarlWitthoft turns out you have to have both X: and K: defined for SE to recognise it as ABCjs. Sep 5, 2019 at 13:12
• I thought that an acciaccatura was played at the same time as the other notes. Is that not so?
– JimM
Sep 5, 2019 at 20:10

If all the stems point outward, it's easy, as you've noticed. If the note with a different duration is in the middle of the chord, you can write the noteheads slightly out of alignment so they only touch the stem that applies to them.

For example, if you have, in the right hand of a piano score, a quarter note open fifth with a figure in sixteenth notes comprising pitches between the two quarter notes, you have four options.

If the quarter note stems point down and the sixteenth note stems point up, write the first sixteenth notehead slightly to the right, by perhaps half the width of a notehead.

If the quarter note stems point up and the sixteenth note stems point down, write the first sixteenth notehead slightly to the left instead.

If all the stems have to go in the same direction, give the noteheads a horizontal displacement of just a bit more than one notehead's width. This can be tricky. You will need to have the sixteenth notes spaced rather farther from each other than the horizontal distance between the quarter noteheads and the first sixteenth. I think it would be easier to read if the quarters were to the right of the first sixteenth, but I'm not certain of it.

Bach's solo violin and keyboard works frequently use a notation style in which simultaneously sounded notes do not share their stems. It might be interesting to look through these for some inspiration.

Lilypond does this automatically to some extent and provides a way of overriding the automatic layout. MuseScore does it as well.

This can be achieved in ABCjs with y:

``````X: 1
K: c
L:1/2
%%score (T1 T2)
V:T1 clef=bass stem=up
V:T2 clef=bass stem=up
[V:T1] [A,,/2E,G,]
[V:T2] y/32C,/16
``````

Or

``````X: 1
K: c
L:1/2
%%score (T1 T2)
V:T1 clef=bass stem=up
V:T2 clef=bass stem=up
[V:T1] [A,,/2E,G,] [A,,/2E,G,] | [F,/2A,/2]
[V:T2] y/32D,/4C,/4 B,,/4^C,/4  D,/2
``````

Clearer:

``````X: 1
K: c
L:1/2
%%score (T1 T2)
V:T1 clef=bass stem=up
V:T2 clef=bass stem=down
[V:T1] y/32[A,,/2E,G,] [A,,/2E,G,] | [F,/2A,/2]
[V:T2] D,/4C,/4 B,,/4^C,/4  y/32 D,/2
``````

This can be done with an Acciaccatura. How it is played depends on the time period it was written in, but is largely up to the interpretation of the performer.

In classical music this is often played on the beat with the rest of the chord slightly delayed and played immediately after.

Sometimes, especially if the Acciaccatura falls at the end of the previous measure, it is played slightly before the beat, with the main note/chord falling on the beat.

The last option is played simultaneously with the main note/chord and quickly released. This is more common in 19th century works and in fast passages where the previous options aren't practical.

The last example is what you are looking for (remember to notate it like the first example!), but is the least common overall and is likely to be interpreted differently by the performer. Leaving this open to the performer is standard practice (as with all ornamental expressions) and is probably the best choice. However, if you are really set on it being played a certain way, I would simply notate that in plain text.

You use two "voices" or "layers" or whatever your favourite notation software calls them, like this.

A good notation program will get the horizontal spacing correct automatically. Whether Lilypond or Musescore are "good" by that definition, I don't know.