I spent several days but didn't find a clear explanation on this topic, only blurry ones.

It's logical to think that if the following note is, e.g., 16th note, then it's properly to use 16th acciaccatura. Still, as I noticed, the most common is 8th acciaccatura in any case. Also saw if there are two or more they beamed as 16ths.

Can somebody explain this: when to use 8th, 16th, 32th... acciaccaturas. What's the rule?

Good referenсe will be appreciated.

4 Answers 4


The value of the following note is irrelevant. If they are single-note acciaccaturi I always write them as small eighth notes. If they are two-note or three-note ones, then as sixteenth notes, and four-note or more, as 32nd notes. In other words, the note-values of acciaccaturi are not related to their surroundings. They are a law unto themselves! So even if you're writing something in 3/16 time, an acciaccatura will be written as a quaver.

I think this is the convention. It's certainly a convention, and as long as you're consistent your intentions will be perfectly clear.

As you know, they're always written with a strike-out line through the stem and tail and, unless there's a danger of them colliding with something else (like an accidental), they're always written with their stems up.


This is a very good question.

Generally speaking, the smaller the number is, the longer that acciaccatura should sustain. An 8th acciaccatura could theoretically be played as long as an 8th note, an so forth. Given in the same piece, at the same tempo, an 8th acciaccatura could sound longer and clearer, and thus more defined or more emphasized than those 16th, and 32th.

If you are trying to play those notations on piano, it's not a good idea to take those 8th, 16th, 32th acciaccatura....too pedanticly. The purpose of an acciaccatura is usually bringing out certain accent of the music. How that accent exactly should sound, is largely interpretable. Some pianists use their gut feelings some like to play that based on research of the style of that piece or even the personality and biography of the composer. I would suggest you listen to good recordings of that piece for samples of the interpretation. Knowledge of the style, the music history and the composer may also help.

More tricky than acciaccature are things like tremolo. Baroque works for harpsichord have lots of those stuff. How to play it? It's rather a matter of taste than technique. Education builds good taste. I would recommend the master classes taught by Sir András Schiff (you can find them on YouTube). Pick any of his master classes, and learn by heart. He doesn't necessarily teach you how to play an acciaccatura or tremolo, but he has very good taste, he teaches music.

I myself play another instrument (a kind of lute), but refer to Schiff's teaching when I play music.

FYI, the traditional repertoire of my instrument involves a huge amount of embellishment such as tremolo, acciaccatura, portamento, and on and on. Until I came across your question, I never really paid close attention to the notations. I just follow my teacher's demo, learn music style and history, refer to Schiff's master classes, and sometimes use imagination.

-------------- edit ----------------

The author clarified his question like this:

I'm asking from the perspective of the composer. That's why it so important. If I had to play somebody's music and saw such notes, I probably wouldn't pay much attention to it.

My answer:

If, in the same piece, a composer uses both 8th and 16th for the acciaccatura, then he may suggest there should be some difference between these two. Like I explained above, if he wants to emphasize an acciaccatura more than another, he could note that more defined one with 8th, the less dominant one with 16th. In my repertoire, many pieces have a group of pitches as an acciaccatura, it would be wise to use 16th or 32th for each pitch in the group, otherwise, this acciaccature would appear way too dominant, it would no longer be an embellishment, rather the main note. This should not happen.

If, that piece has only a few acciaccatura, and those acciaccatura are not grouped, then there's hardly any difference of using 8th or 16th or 32th. It's a quick crush, an embellishment, an accent. That's it.

  • Thank you for your reply. I'm asking from the perspective of the composer. That's why it so important. If I had to play somebody's music and saw such notes, I probably wouldn't pay much attention to it.
    – prstch
    Apr 24, 2020 at 22:24
  • @prstch I edited my answer. Apr 24, 2020 at 22:43
  • 1
    Very good questions can simply be upvoted. :)
    – guidot
    Apr 25, 2020 at 13:01

There is no difference in the values. An acciaccatura is a crushed note and therefore has practically no length, whether it is an 8th or 16th etc. As you say, the 8th note (with a slash through it) is the most common and can be used in general.


Had you asked about an appoggiatura, then there would be a big important difference, as the notes involved there have definite values, which should be noted, so to speak.

However, as already stated, an acciaccatura has very little note value ot time of its own. It's effectively part of the main note - in fact, some players will play both at the same time and release the first immediately.

So, having basically no time value, it doesn't really matter as a writer, how you portray acciaccaturas. You may get more value out of writing appoggiaturas instead.

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