Note that this is not a duplicate of this question, which asks for a grace note tied to the same principal note. This is more generally about tying grace notes (specifically acciaccaturas) to any principal note.

first example

A slur can, in my understanding, mean two things:

  • The notes are supposed to be played legato, or flow into one another.
  • The notes are part of one phrase, and while not necessarily legato you can emphasise their connection with e.g. dynamics and timing.

I cannot understand how, at least in piano playing, either of these is not already implied by the grace note being an acciaccatura. That note is defined as an extremely short note, not long enough to warrant a specified duration, and it serves only to lead up to the note or chord it is attached to. It cannot exist without it.

And has anyone ever encountered a staccato acciaccatura? I personally have not in many of the piano compositions which are virtuous about tying every single grace note like this.

Even weirder, when the principal note is the start of a phrase, the acciaccaturas are often not incorporated in that phrase, but instead notated as a separate phrase. Like here:

second example

Start of the second bar, you have the E which starts a phrase that ends on the next G. But the acciaccaturas for the E are slurred together as well - implying that they are part of their own phrase, yet it seamlessly connects to the next one?

And this slurring can also occur in the middle of a phrase:

third example

Not that I haven't seen phrases within phrases before, but I get the feeling that this acciaccatura slurring is a separate system.

I would love to find out how I am supposed to play a slurred acciaccatura, especially a single one which by definition has a minute duration and always leads seamlessly into the next, any differently from one that isn't slurred. Any examples, like performance recordings, are most appreciated!


1 Answer 1


On many instruments, slurs indicate a particular technique. For wind instruments, it means to play without tonguing. For orchestral strings, it means to play in one bow motion. In these cases, it's critically important for slurs to be in the right places.

Outside of that, I think it's simply tradition to use a slur to visually group the grace note in with the note it's decorating.

  • Interesting... I have definitely seen plenty of sheet music where this slurring is absent, but a quick Google search implies that they are actually in the minority. I didn't consider the possibility that it is just part of the notation.
    – KeizerHarm
    Mar 24, 2020 at 14:01
  • 1
    I'm in agreement with this answer. I can't recall off the top of my head an instance where a grace note was marked such that the main note is to be re-attacked (tongued or bowed). Such an instance is normally written as a "genuine" 64th (or similar short) note at the end of the previous beat. Mar 24, 2020 at 14:16

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