Mu­sic read­ing

This month Char­lie Griffiths con­tin­ues his se­ries on sight read­ing with a look at spe­cial or­na­ments used to add ex­tra colour to mu­si­cal phrases.

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

Char­lie Griffiths on the use of or­na­ments.

This month we will add some sym­bols which can be as­signed to any note to add in­ter­est to melodies with­out nec­es­sar­ily hav­ing to write in more notes; this orig­i­nates from clas­si­cal com­posers such as Bach or Chopin who were prone to writ­ing or­nate melodies, but who de­vel­oped a kind of short-hand to keep the page cleaner.

we will start with three meth­ods of em­bel­lish­ing melodies with trills, mor­dents and turns. se­condly we will see how ap­pog­giat­uras and ac­ciac­cat­uras are used to pre­cede writ­ten melodic pitches with dif­fer­ent types of grace notes. Fi­nally we will use glis­san­dos to slide smoothly be­tween melody notes.

Trills are a com­mon or­na­men­ta­tion on the gui­tar in­volv­ing rapidly al­ter­nat­ing be­tween two notes. A sim­ple tr. writ­ten above the note to be trilled is the gen­er­ally ac­cepted method of in­di­cat­ing this tech­nique. The du­ra­tion of the trill is in­di­cated by the note value it­self, but the speed of al­ter­na­tion is es­sen­tially left to the mu­si­cian to de­cide. The writ­ten pitch of the note is al­ways as­sumed to be the lower note of the two trilled notes and the higher note is ei­ther a semi­tone or a tone, depend­ing on what is di­a­ton­i­cally ap­pro­pri­ate.

A ‘mor­dent’ is shown as a short hor­i­zon­tal zig-zag line above the note and is sim­i­lar to a trill in that it in­volves a rapid al­ter­na­tion be­tween the writ­ten pitch and an ad­ja­cent higher di­a­tonic note, but only hap­pens once at the be­gin­ning of the writ­ten pitch. on the gui­tar this is typ­i­cally played as a quick ham­mer-on and pull-off. A ‘turn’ is shown as a wavy hor­i­zon­tal line sim­i­lar to an ’s’ and is es­sen­tially a more com­plex ‘mor­dent’. in the case of a ‘turn’, the sin­gle writ­ten note ac­tu­ally be­comes a se­quence of five ad­ja­cent notes; af­ter play­ing the ini­tial note, go up to the next scale tone, then re­turn to the orig­i­nal pitch, then go down a scale note and fi­nally re­turn to where you started. Plac­ing a short ver­ti­cal line through the cen­tre of the mor­dent and turn sym­bol re­verses the se­quence of notes.

The next two or­na­men­ta­tions are com­monly re­ferred to as ‘grace’ notes on the gui­tar and are very com­monly used when quickly slid­ing into, or ham­mer­ing-on to, a note. ‘Ac­ciac­catura’ is from the ital­ian verb ‘to crush’; ap­pro­pri­ately enough the idea is to squeeze in a quick ex­tra note be­fore an ex­ist­ing writ­ten one. They are shown on the no­ta­tion as small qua­ver notes with di­ag­o­nal lines through them and are in­tended to be played a frac­tion of a beat be­fore the main note, although tech­ni­cally they have no ex­act math­e­mat­i­cal value.

The ‘ap­pog­giatura’ looks sim­i­larly small but does not have a di­ag­o­nal line ‘cross­ing out’ the qua­ver note. in this case, the grace note starts on the beat and lasts for ex­actly half the du­ra­tion of the note it pre­cedes.

Fi­nally we have the glis­sando sym­bol - a wavy line be­tween two notes. This in­di­cates a grad­ual, con­tin­u­ous glide from one note to the next - slide a fin­ger up or down the string, or use the whammy bar to con­trol the pitch. A ‘gliss’ is slower and more de­lib­er­ate than a slide which is a lit­tle quicker.

Re­mem­ber to test your read­ing skills by look­ing at other ar­ti­cles in GT too!

NEXT MONTH: Char­lie con­tin­ues on his quest to get you Read­ing Mu­sic

Trills are a com­mon gui­tar or­na­men­ta­tion and in­volve rapidly al­ter­nat­ing be­tween two notes.

Trills, mor­dents and grace notes: com­mon in gui­tar play­ing

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