A passage with two phrases ending in appoggiaturas, followed by these phrases without them (160 KB)

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An appoggiatura (/əˌpɒəˈtjʊərə/; Italian: [appoddʒaˈtuːra]; German Vorschlag, Vorhalt; French Port de voix) is a musical ornament that consists of an added note in a melody that is resolved, delaying the appearance of the principal note. The added note (the unessential note) is typically (though not always) one degree higher or lower than the principal note; and, if lower, it may or may not be chromatically raised.

The term comes from the Italian verb appoggiare, "to lean upon". It is also called a long appoggiatura to distinguish it from the short appoggiatura, the acciaccatura. An ascending appoggiatura was previously known as a forefall, while a descending appoggiatura was known as a backfall.

In contrast to the acciaccatura, the appoggiatura is important melodically and often suspends the principal note by taking away the time-value of the appoggiatura prefixed to it. The time subtracted is generally half the time value of the principal note, though in simple triple or compound meters, for example, it might receive two thirds of the time.

Appoggiaturas are usually, but not exclusively, on the strong or strongest beat of the resolution and are approached by a leap and left by step.[1] This notation has also been used to mark an accent in the articulation of vocal music, meaning that the grace note should be emphasized, for example in Haydn's Missa Brevis in G major, fifth bar for soprano and tenor voices.


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


This may be executed as follows:


Note that the same notation can be used for other interpretations of the grace note; therefore determining that an appoggiatura is intended depends on performance practice.

An appoggiatura may also be notated precisely as it should be performed, with full-size notes, to reduce ambiguity.

Unaccented appoggiatura

So-called unaccented appoggiaturas are also quite common in many periods of music, even though they are disapproved of by some early theorists (for example, by C. P. E. Bach, in his Versuch über die wahre Art das Clavier zu spielen). While not being identical with the acciaccatura, these are almost always quite short, and take their time from the allocation for the note that precedes them. They are more likely to be seen as full-size notes in the score, rather than in small character – at least in modern editions.

Double appoggiatura

The double appoggiatura (Ital. Appoggiatura doppia; Ger. Doppelvorschlag; Fr. Port de voix double) is an ornament composed of two short notes preceding a principal note, one placed above and the other below it. They are usually written as small sixteenth notes.

The first of the two may be at any distance from the principal note, but the second is only one degree removed from it. They have no fixed duration, but are generally slower when applied to a long note (Ex. 1) than when the principal note is short (Ex. 2); moreover, the double appoggiatura, in which the first note lies at a distance from the principal note, should always be somewhat slower than that in which both notes are close to it (Ex. 3). In all cases the time required for both notes is subtracted from the value of the principal note.

{ \override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f \time 2/4 \relative b' << { \appoggiatura { b16[^\markup { 1. \italic Written. } d] } c2 \bar "||" \appoggiatura { b16[^"2." d] } c4 b8 r \bar "||" \grace { e,16[^"3." d'] } c4( b8 r | }
\new Staff { \override TupletBracket #'bracket-visibility = ##f \times 2/3 { b16(^\markup { \italic Played. } d c) ~ } c8 ~ c4 | b32( d c8. b8) r | \stemDown \times 2/3 { e,16( d' c) ~ } c8( b) r | } >> }

The double appoggiatura is sometimes, though rarely, met with in an inverted form (Ex. 4), and C. P. E. Bach mentions another exceptional kind, in which the first of the two small notes is dotted, and receives the whole accent, while the principal note becomes as short as the second of the two small notes (Ex. 5).

{ \override Score.Rest #'style = #'classical \override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f \time 4/4 \partial 2 \relative b' << { \grace { d16[^"4." b] } c4 r \bar "||" c4^"5." \appoggiatura { c8.[ e16] } d4 c r | }
\new Staff { d32 b c8. r4 | c4 c8.( e32 d) c4 r | } >> }

The dotted double appoggiatura, written as above, is of very rare occurrence; but it is frequently found in the works of Mozart, Beethoven, etc., written in notes of ordinary size (Ex. 6).

6. Beethoven, Piano Sonata No. 21

{ \override Score.Rest #'style = #'classical \time 4/4 \clef bass \relative c << { <c e>8 <c e> <c e> <c e> <c e> <c e> <d fis> <d fis> | <d g>4.( b'16 a) g8 r r4 | } \\ { <g, c,>8 <g c,> <g c,> <g c,> <g c,> <g c,> <a c,> <a c,> | <g b,>2:8 <g b,>:8 | } >> }

Appoggiaturas approached by step

Appoggiatura approached and left by step

Although appoggiaturas are often approached by leap and resolved by step, there are examples of approached and resolution both taking place by step.

One such example is present in Schubert's "Wiegenlied" D. 867:


  1. See . Also Kent Kennan, Counterpoint, Fourth Edition, pg 40.

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Grove, George, ed. (1900). "Appoggiatura, Double". A Dictionary of Music and Musicians. London: Macmillan and Company. 

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