64. Embellishments (or graces) (Fr. agrements) are ornamental tones,

either represented in full in the score or indicated by certain signs.

The following are the embellishments most commonly found: Trill (or

shake), mordent, inverted mordent (or prall trill), turn (gruppetto),

inverted turn, appoggiatura and acciaccatura.

Usage varies greatly in the interpretation of the signs representing

these embellish
ents and it is impossible to give examples of all the

different forms. The following definitions represent therefore only the

most commonly found examples and the most generally accepted


65. The trill (or shake) consists of the rapid alternation of two

tones to the full value of the printed note. The lower of these two

tones is represented by the printed note, while the upper one is the

next higher tone in the diatonic scale of the key in which the

composition is written. The interval between the two tones may therefore

be either a half-step or a whole-step.

Whether the trill is to begin with the principal tone

(represented by the printed note) or with the one above is a

matter of some dispute among theorists and performers, but it

may safely be said that the majority of modern writers on the

subject would have it begin on the principal tone rather than

on the tone above. Fig. 40.

When the principal note is preceded by a small note on the

degree above, it is of course understood that the trill begins

on the tone above. Fig. 41.

The trill is indicated by the sign [trill symbol].

The above examples would be termed perfect trills because they close

with a turn. By inference, an imperfect trill is one closing without a


66. The mordent [mordent symbol] consists of three tones; first the

one represented by the printed note; second the one next below it in the

diatonic scale; third the one represented by the printed note again.

67. The double (or long) mordent has five tones (sometimes seven)

instead of three, the first two of the three tones of the regular

mordent being repeated once or more. (See Fig. 43.)

In the case of both mordent and double-mordent the tones are sounded as

quickly as possible, the time taken by the embellishment being

subtracted from the value of the principal note as printed.

68. The inverted mordent [inverted mordent symbol] (note the absence

of the vertical line) is like the mordent except that the tone below is

replaced by the tone above in each case. This ornament is sometimes

called a transient shake because it is really only a part of the more

elaborate grace called trill. (See Fig. 44.)

The confusion at present attending the interpretation of the

last two embellishments described, might be largely obviated

if the suggestion of a recent writer[11] to call the one the

upward mordent, and the other the downward mordent were to

be universally adopted.

[Footnote 11: Elson--Dictionary of Music, article mordent.]

69. The turn consists of four tones; first, the diatonic scale-tone

above the principal tone; second, the principal tone itself; third, the

tone below the principal tone; and fourth, the principal tone again.

When the sign ([turn symbol] or [fancy turn symbol]) occurs over a note

of small value in rapid tempo (Fig. 45) the turn consists of four tones

of equal value; but if it occurs over a note of greater value, or in a

slow tempo, the tones are usually played quickly (like the mordent), and

the fourth tone is then held until the time-value of the note has

expired. (Fig. 46.)

70. When the turn-sign is placed a little to the right of the note the

principal tone is sounded first and held to almost its full time-value,

then the turn is played just before the next tone of the melody. In this

case the four tones are of equal length as in the first example. (See

Fig. 47.)

The student should note the difference between these two

effects; in the case of a turn over the note the turn comes

at the beginning, but in the case of the sign after the note

the turn comes at the very end. But in both cases the time

taken by the embellishment is taken from the time-value of

the principal note. For further details see Grove's Dictionary

of Music and Musicians, Vol. V, p. 184. Also Elson, op. cit.

p. 274.

71. Sometimes an accidental occurs with the turn, and in this case when

written above the sign it refers to the highest tone of the turn, but

when written below, to the lowest (Fig. 48).

72. In the inverted turn the order of tones is reversed, the lowest

one coming first, the principal tone next, the highest tone third, and

the principal tone again, last.

73. The appoggiatura (lit. leaning note) consists of an ornamental

tone introduced before a tone of a melody, thus delaying the melody tone

until the ornamental tone has been heard. The time taken for this

ornamental tone is taken from that of the melody tone.

The appoggiatura was formerly classified into long

appoggiatura and short appoggiatura, but modern writers

seem to consider the term short appoggiatura to be

synonymous with acciaccatura[12], and to avoid confusion the

word acciaccatura will be used in this sense, and defined

under its own heading.

[Footnote 12: In organ music the acciaccatura is still taken to mean

that the embellishing tone and the melody tone are to be sounded

together, the former being then instantly released, while the latter is

held to its full time-value.]

74. Three rules for the interpretation of the appoggiatura are commonly

cited, viz.:

(1) When it is possible to divide the principal tone into

halves, then the appoggiatura receives one-half the value of

the printed note. (Fig. 50.)

(2) When the principal note is dotted (division into halves

being therefore not possible), the appoggiatura receives

two-thirds of the value. (Fig. 51.)

(3) When the principal note is tied to a note of smaller

denomination the appoggiatura receives the value of the first

of the two notes. (Fig. 52.)

75. The acciaccatura (or short appoggiatura) is written like the

appoggiatura except that it has a light stroke across its stem.

It has no definite duration-value, but is sounded as

quickly as possible, taking its time from that of the principal tone.

The appoggiatura is always accented, but the acciaccatura never is, the

stress always falling on the melody tone. (See Grove, op. cit. Vol. I,

p. 96.)

The use of embellishments is on the wane, and the student of

to-day needs the above information only to aid him in the

interpretation of music written in previous centuries. In the

early days of instrumental music it was necessary to introduce

graces of all sorts because the instruments in use were not

capable of sustaining tone for any length of time; but with

the advent of the modern piano with its comparatively great

sustaining power, and also with the advent in vocal music of a

new style of singing (German Lieder singing as contrasted with

Italian coloratura singing), ornamental tones were used less

and less, and when found now are usually written out in full

in the score instead of being indicated by signs.