Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. Today’s subject is about grace notes that aren’t grace notes. Sometimes students think that they’re looking at grace notes and they’re not grace notes. What am I talking about? Well, first of all, what are grace notes? Grace notes are the little tiny notes with diagonal lines going through them just before other notes. You typically play them very quickly. They can be played either on the beat or before the beat. It depends upon what works well. Sometimes it’s easier to play them on the beat. Sometimes it’s easier to play them slightly before the beat. The key is to play them quickly.
When are grace notes not grace notes? How do you know?
Sometimes you will see these little notes that look like grace notes, but they aren’t grace notes. For example, the beginning of Mozart’s Alla Turka movement from his famous Sonata k331. Those are not grace notes! Believe it or not. Look in your edition. They may be written as grace notes. But if you have an authoritative urtext edition, they’re written as appoggiaturas. Appoggiaturas look almost exactly like grace notes, but there’s one key difference. Grace notes always have little lines through them. They’re crossed out. Whereas, appoggiaturas are little tiny notes, but there are no lines through them. They are different in the way you play them. You don’t play them like grace notes. I mentioned two ways to play grace notes, either before the beat or on the beat playing very quickly. Both are wrong in this context, because these are appoggiaturas. Look in your edition. There should not be a line through them. If there are lines through them, this is not accurate.
What are appoggiaturas?
Appoggiaturas are long expressive non chord tones that resolve. They’re played on the beat with some time attached to them. In this case you play them as 16th notes followed by dotted 8th notes instead of grace notes, which are not appropriate for Mozart. It’s not what Mozart wrote! There are some editions out there that are just wrong in this regard. Listen to the beauty when you play them long, the way they’re supposed to be played. Look at all your music now for any places you think you have grace notes. Make sure they are grace notes. They might be appoggiaturas!
There are times when grace notes are not grace notes at all, but they are appoggiaturas to be played long and on the beat. That’s the lesson for today! I’m sure all of you are going to check your scores now. Let me know what you discover! Tell me in the comments here at LivingPianos.com, as well as YouTube. Thanks so much for joining me. I’m Robert Estrin here at LivingPianos.com, Your Online Piano Resource.
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