Grace note duration on dotted note

• Mar 26, 2015 - 13:03

It seems as though dotting a note's value confuses the grace-note timing. That is, a grace note before a quarter note plays as an eighth, as advertised, but when the quarter note gets a dot, the grace note doubles its sound to a quarter note, which is unexpected and wrong, with no way to adjust or control it. Create a brand-new score with nothing but a dotted and undotted quarter, add grace notes, and listen; I'll provide an example of this is insufficient.

Using 2.0.0 in Mac Yosemite. Can you help me? Thanks.


In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Thanks for your quick response. I read the Wikipedia page, but, ....

See the enclosed Sarabande from BWV 1067, second measure. Every live performance on You Tube, concert, or on recordings interprets the grace note as an eighth, not a quarter. It would be ideal if this could be controlled/adjusted rather than procrustean. Thanks again.

Attachment Size
Sarabande.mscz 40.91 KB

In reply to by [DELETED] 1831606

I suspect the reason this particular one is often played differently than the more common interpretation is that the assumption is probably that "most" cases of dotted notes taking an appoggiatura are compound meter. So the case here is probably rather unusual, and perhaps that warrants an exception. Anyhow, indeed, it would eventually be nice to provide more control over playback of ornaments; see #13811: Select playback method of Grace Notes, Arpeggio & Glissando and Articulations & Ornaments. Meanwhile, do keep in mind the primary purpose of MuseScore is notation, not playback. But if hearing more stylistically correct playback is especially important to you, you are awlays welcome to create an invisible playback staff and ut your intended interpretation there, and mute the "regular" notes.

Sorry for being a late comer...

I think there is a basic misunderstanding here: ornaments (at least in Baroque music, where they were most used) are not a shorthand for a defined, precise, group of smaller notes. They play (pun not intended) on a different level, as they are essentially unmetered. Should the author had intended a specific, precise, rhythmic pattern, he would have usually spelt it out in notes.

Ornaments which alternate the main note with other(s) (mordent, trill, etc.) may be quick or slow (well, usually very quick or simply quick), to be played with sprezzatura. The speed may be related with the piece tempo and character, but it is usually best left unmetered, the sprezzatura being the important part. Many of the performances which can be heard (on YouTube or elsewhere) are too mechanical under this respect.

For grace notes, their main function is usually harmonic, to introduce a dissonance between the Continuo (or bass) chord and the solo line, to be resolved on the main note. The duration of the grace itself is largely irrelevant and left to the performer taste, as long as the dissonance can be distinctly heard. In any case, it is usually important to resolve the grace before the accompaniment changes of chord, to have the consonance also distinctly heard.

For these reasons (and we haven't even entered the topic of the change of ornaments over time and space), any automated ornament realisation is going to be unsatisfactory, from a performance point of view, whatever set of "rules of thumb" it uses; and should be intended only as a generic starting point for personal interpretation.

In reply to by Miwarre

Much of this is true, but I take issue with the inappropriateness of "rules of thumb" (and anyway, if there is sufficient customizability, the thumb is only, shall we say, one digit: "generic starting point for personal interpretation" is right). Of the countless live performances and recordings by highly acclaimed professionals informed by esteemed scholarship I have heard or attended, "grace notes" in baroque music, serving the exact function you mention, accented passing dissonance over the continuo, seem always to be in rhythm, where some kind of local or piece-wide rhythmic unit can be inferred or told. This thread started because of an ambiguity about heuristics for dotted notes, somehow being confused with basic notes in a triplet tempo.

In the score I posted, the famous canonic Sarabande of Bach's B Minor suite, the appoggiature serve a secondary function, a kind of "you don't have to imitate this" message from the dux to the comes. See the score on IMSLP.

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