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
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 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
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.
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, 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
(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,
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.