Ornament (music)

An extreme example of ornamentation as a fioritura from Chopin's ♭ major

In music, ornaments or embellishments are musical flourishes—typically, added notes—that are not essential to carry the overall line of the melody (or harmony), but serve instead to decorate or "ornament" that line (or harmony), provide added interest and variety, and give the performer the opportunity to add expressiveness to a song or piece. Many ornaments are performed as "fast notes" around a central, main note. There are many types of ornaments, ranging from the addition of a single, short grace note before a main note to the performance of a virtuostic and flamboyant trill. The amount of ornamentation in a piece of music can vary from quite extensive (it was often extensive in the Baroque period, from 1600 to 1750) to relatively little or even none. The word agrément is used specifically to indicate the French Baroque style of ornamentation.

In the Baroque period, it was common for performers to improvise ornamentation on a given melodic line. A singer performing a da capo aria, for instance, would sing the melody relatively unornamented the first time, but decorate it with additional flourishes and trills the second time. Similarly, a harpsichord player performing a simple melodic line was expected to be able to improvise harmonically and stylistically appropriate trills, mordents (upper or lower) and appoggiaturas.

Ornamentation may also be indicated by the composer. A number of standard ornaments (described below) are indicated with standard symbols in music notation, while other ornamentations may be appended to the score in small notes, or simply written out normally as fully sized notes. Frequently, a composer will have his or her own vocabulary of ornaments, which will be explained in a preface, much like a code. A grace note is a note written in smaller type, with or without a slash through it, to indicate that its note value does not count as part of the total time value of the bar. Alternatively, the term may refer more generally to any of the small notes used to mark some other ornament (see § Appoggiatura below), or in association with some other ornament's indication (see § Trill below), regardless of the timing used in the execution.

In Spain, melodies ornamented upon repetition ("divisions") were called "diferencias", and can be traced back to 1538, when Luis de Narváez published the first collection of such music for the vihuela.[1]

Western classical music

Trill

A trill, also known as a "shake", is a rapid alternation between an indicated note and the one above. In simple music, the trills may be diatonic, using just the notes of the scale.

Sometimes it is expected that the trill will end with a turn (by sounding the note below rather than the note above the principal note, immediately before the last sounding of the principal note), or some other variation. Such variations are often marked with a few grace notes following the note that bears the trill indication. The trill is indicated by either a tr or a tr~~, with the ~ representing the length of the trill, above the staff. In Baroque music, the trill is sometimes indicated with a + (plus) sign above or below the note.

 {
\override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f
    \relative c'' {
        \time 2/4
        g2\trill
    }
}

At a moderate tempo, the above might be executed as follows:

 {
\override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f
    \relative c'' {
        \time 2/4
        g32[ a g \set stemRightBeamCount = #1 a \set stemLeftBeamCount = #1 g a g a]
        g32[ a g \set stemRightBeamCount = #1 a \set stemLeftBeamCount = #1 g a g a]
    }
}

There is also a single tone trill variously called trillo or tremolo in late Renaissance and early Baroque. Trilling on a single note is particularly idiomatic for the bowed strings.

Mordent

The mordent is thought of as a rapid alternation between an indicated note, the note above (called the upper mordent, inverted mordent, or pralltriller) or below (called the lower mordent or mordent), and the indicated note again.

The upper mordent is indicated by a short thick tilde (which may also indicate a trill); the lower mordent is the same with a short vertical line through it:

 {
\override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f
    \relative c'' {

        \time 2/4
        d\prall c\mordent
    }

}

As with the trill, the exact speed with which the mordent is performed will vary according to the tempo of the piece, but, at a moderate tempo, the above might be executed as follows:

 {
\override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f
    \relative c'' {

        \time 2/4
        d32 e d16~ d8  c32 b c16~ c8 
    }

}

Confusion over the meaning of the unadorned word mordent has led to the modern terms upper and lower mordent being used, rather than mordent and inverted mordent. Practice, notation, and nomenclature vary widely for all of these ornaments; that is to say, whether, by including the symbol for a mordent in a musical score, a composer intended the direction of the additional note (or notes) to be played above or below the principal note written on the sheet music varies according to when the piece was written, and in which country. This article as a whole addresses an approximate nineteenth-century standard.

In the Baroque period, a Mordant (the German or Scottish equivalent of mordent) was what later came to be called an inverted mordent and what is now often called a lower mordent. In the 19th century, however, the name mordent was generally applied to what is now called the upper mordent. Although mordents are now thought of as just a single alternation between notes, in the Baroque period a Mordant may sometimes have been executed with more than one alternation between the indicated note and the note below, making it a sort of inverted trill. Mordents of all sorts might typically, in some periods, begin with an extra inessential note (the lesser, added note), rather than with the principal note as shown in the examples here. The same applies to trills, which in Baroque and Classical times would standardly begin with the added, upper note. A lower inessential note may or may not be chromatically raised (that is, with a natural, a sharp, or even a double sharp) to make it just one semitone lower than the principal note.

Turn

A turn is a short figure consisting of the note above the one indicated, the note itself, the note below the one indicated, and the note itself again. It is marked by a mirrored S-shape lying on its side above the staff.

The details of its execution depend partly on the exact placement of the turn mark. The following turns:

 {
\override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f
<< \clef treble
    \relative c'' {

        \stemNeutral c4. d8 e2  c4 d\turn e2
    } \\ {
        s4 s^\turn
    }
>>

}

might be executed like this::

 {
\override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f
    \relative c'' {
        c8 \tuplet 3/2 { d16 c b } c8 d e2
        c4 e16 d c d e2
    }

}

The exact speed at which the notes of a turn are executed can vary, as can its rhythm. The question of how a turn is best executed is largely one of context, convention, and taste. The lower and upper added notes may or may not be chromatically raised (see mordent).

An inverted turn (the note below the one indicated, the note itself, the note above it, and the note itself again) is usually indicated by putting a short vertical line through the normal turn sign, though sometimes the sign itself is turned upside down.

Appoggiatura

The Appoggiatura (ə/; Italian: [appoddʒaˈtuːra]) is an added note that is important melodically (unlike the acciaccatura) and suspends the principal note by a portion of its time-value, often about half, but this may be considerably more or less depending on the context. The added note (the unessential note) is one degree higher or lower than the principal note, and, if lower, it may or may not be chromatically raised. Appoggiaturas are also usually on the strong or strongest beat of the resolution, are themselves emphasised, and are approached by a leap and left by a step in the opposite direction of the leap.[2][3]

The appoggiatura is often written as a grace note prefixed to a principal note and printed in small character,[4] without the oblique stroke:

 {
\override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f
    \relative c'' {

        \time 2/4
        \grace { d4( } c2)
    }

}

This may be executed as follows:

 {
\override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f
    \relative c'' {

        \time 2/4
        d4( c)
    }

}

Acciaccatura

Acciaccatura (UK: ə/, US: ə-/; Italian: [attʃakkaˈtuːra]) comes from the Italian verb acciaccare, "to crush". In the eighteenth century, it was an ornament applied to any of the main notes of arpeggiated chords, either a tone or semitone below the chord tone, struck simultaneously with it and then immediately released. Hence the German translation Zusammenschlag (together-stroke).[5]

In the nineteenth century, the acciaccatura (sometimes called short appoggiatura) came to be a shorter variant of the long appoggiatura, where the delay of the principal note is quick. It is written using a grace note (often a quaver, or eighth note), with an oblique stroke through the stem. The acciaccatura in the Classical period is usually performed before the beat and the emphasis is on the main note not the grace note. The appoggiatura long or short has the emphasis on the grace note.[citation needed]

 {
\override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f
    \relative c'' {

        \time 2/4
        \slashedGrace { d8( } c4)
        \slashedGrace { e8( } d4)
    }

}

The exact interpretation of this will vary according to the tempo of the piece, but the following is possible:

 {
\override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f
    \relative c'' {

        \time 2/4
        d32 c32~ c16~ c8  e32 d32~ d16~ d8
    }

}

Whether the note should be played before or on the beat is largely a question of taste and performance practice. Exceptionally, the acciaccatura may be notated in the bar preceding the note to which it is attached, showing that it is to be played before the beat.[citation needed] (This guide to practice is unfortunately not available, of course, if the principal note does not fall at the beginning of the bar.)

The implication also varies with the composer and the period. For example, Mozart's and Haydn's long appoggiaturas are – to the eye – indistinguishable from Mussorgsky's and Prokofiev's before-the-beat acciaccaturas.[citation needed]

Glissando

A glissando is a slide from one note to another, signified by a wavy line connecting the two notes. All of the intervening diatonic or chromatic (depending on instrument and context) are heard, albeit very briefly. In this way, the glissando differs from portamento.

 {
\override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f
    \relative c' {
        \override Glissando.style = #'trill
        e2\glissando e'
    }
}

In contemporary classical music (especially in avant garde pieces) a glissando tends to assume the whole value of the initial note.

Schleifer

Schleifer notation

A slide (Schleifer in German) instructs the performer to begin one or two diatonic steps below the marked note and slide upward. The schleifer usually includes a prall trill or mordent trill at the end.

Willard A. Palmer wrote, "The schleifer is a 'sliding' ornament, usually used to fill in the gap between a note and the previous one."[6]

Other Languages
dansk: Forsiring
Esperanto: Ornamo (muziko)
italiano: Abbellimento
日本語: 装飾音
norsk nynorsk: Ornament i musikk
polski: Ozdobnik
Simple English: Ornamentation (music)
slovenčina: Abbelimento
српски / srpski: Украс (музика)
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Ukrasi (muzika)
中文: 裝飾音