Notebook, 1993-


Con Garbo / Gracieux,

Grazia, Graceful

An Embellishment . . . . .

C  O  N  S  I  D  E  R  A  T  I  O  N  S
Grace-notes: Trill, Turn, Mordént, Appogiatura, Acciaccatura

Ornamental notes and embellishments, either written by the composer, or introduced by the performer. The principal embellishments are the appoggiat■re, the turn and the shake.

Any note added to a composition as an embellishment. Embellishments of every kind were most copius in harpsichord, spinet, and clavichord music, as well as in violin music, in the eighteenth century. In the first-names instruments their presence was often necessary, since they served to prolong a note [by trill, turn, or mordent] which these instruments could not sustain. But what began in necessity soon became a perverted taste. Marchand, in Paris, used to boast that he could add an embellishment to every note of a composition. Bach followed Marchand's plan of ornamentation in his suites and inventions. The matter of embellishments has been a very misty one from the beginning. In studying the eighteenth century rules one finds numerous inconsistencies. Ph. Em. Back contradicts Leopold Mozart, and Brossard and Grasineau, in their dictionaries, differ from Callcot. It is not in the province of a dictionary to enter into the polemics of this subject. The reader can find a small encyclopedia of this matter in Dannreuther's "Musical Ornamentation" [2 vols.]. Many of the signs are becoming obsolete, and it has become the custom to write the notation in full, in modern editions, avoiding the signs altogether. The chief signs of embellishments used at present are the Trill, Turn, Mordent, Appogiatura and Acciaccatura, which will be found defined under their respective names. A brief synopsis of graces may be thus presented . . . . Although many more signs of embellishment and grace notes might be added to the above, these [with the turn, trill, etc.] are all that will be found in practical use to-day, and even these are rapidly disappearing from modern notation, being written.

Trill. It consists of a rapid alteration of the printed note and the next note above, to the value of the printed note. . . A trill generally ends with a turn, especially if it has the rhythmic value of a half-note or more, and if it occurs in an ascending passage. . .

Turn An embellishment of four, five, or three notes . . . . Called Gruppetto in Italian, Doppelschlag in German, and Groupe in French. Its sign [ &tilde ] came from the neume notation of the dark ages, and showed the direction of the progression of the music. . . . The turn is generally played rapidly, but some deviation is made at times, in very slow and expressive passages.

Mordént Transient shake or beat; word derived rom the French verb mordre [to bite] and the mordent is really a fragment bitten out of a trill. . . . . an embellishment formed by two or more notes, preceding the principal note

Appogiatura Leaning note . . . . long grace note . . . . character is almost always yearning, sorrowful or tender . . . . extraneous to the melody and the harmony)

Acciaccatura A very short grace note - character is bright and crisp, with the single exception of sometimes immitating a sob in mournful or plaintive music.]

[Elson, Louis C. Professor of Theory of Music at the New England Conservatory of Music. Elson's Music Dictionary. Boston: Oliver Ditson Co. MCMV.]



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