A grace note is a musical embellishment in which a note that does not belong to the melody is played before a melody note (target note), usually a second higher or lower than the target note. This makes the music more interesting. The grace note is not counted when calculating the measure length. The grace note therefore has a syncopating effect.

Long appoggiatura

Long appoggiatura

In an appogiatura, the melody note (target note) is shortened by the length of the grace note. In the score, the grace note is therefore printed smaller than the target note. The target note is set in the time value in which the grace note and the target note are to be played together. The grace note is therefore played as long as indicated (e.g., as a quarter or eighth note); the target note receives the remainder of the time value.

Examples for time values
Grace noteMelody noteLength of melody noteLength of grace note
1/41/2 dotted1/41/2

Suspended appoggiatura

Often, the long grace note is suspended, that is, a note that is not the expected in the chord belonging to the melody note. It can be taken from the preceding chord of the same voice (bound suspension) or from the chord of another voice (semi-free suspension) or be completely free. In Jazz, a blue note can serve as suspended appoggiatura.

Short appoggiatura


Short appoggiatura

The short appoggiatura or acciaccatura is usually written as a small eighth note with a crossed-out neck in front of the melody note. It is not summed up with the melody note; thus, if the melody note is e.g. is to be played as a quarter note, it is also noted as a quarter note. How and when the short suggestion tone is performed depends on the musical taste. In Baroque and in Jazz music you play it on the beat (thus, like in the appoggiatura, the following melody note must be shortened), in Classical music however before the beat (thus the preceding melody note has to be shortened).


On guitar and ukulele, Grace notes are executed with the fret hand as a hammer-on if the grace note is lower than the target note, as a pull-off if the grace note is higher than the target note, or as a slide where the grace note is played and slid to the target (melody) note. They all work only if both notes are on the same string.