How can I add grace notes before a barline?

• Nov 23, 2021 - 01:32

I have been composing a piece and I want to move an acciaccatura consisting of a downward arpeggio into the pickup measure, just like the first acciaccatura group in .
(Yes, it has a slash)
even if I try to move it with arrow keys with auto placing disabled, it still does not cross the barline.
how can I do this?


In reply to by :D:D:D

Unfortunately, an acciaccatura isn't offered. I never encountered a need until this evening in a Mazurka by Chopin. (As it would be expected to sound the same as if the acciaccatura were in its typical position as a prefix to the main note of the next measure, I decided just to notate it in the conventional way.)

In reply to by stevebob

If it's after a note, it's not an acciaccatura. Some editor may have chosen to notate it with a slash for some reason (is there a footnote explaining why?), and you can certainly add a slash if you like, but it won't mean what it normally means, and probably isn't worth adding since other musicians won't understand the purpose either.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Well, it is before the first chord group, and it is an acciaccatura, but I want to retain the way the manuscript is notated (though it seems to defy certain rules) . I am doing this so I can read it (sight reading manuscripts is a nightmare) and it happens to me that it is easier to read if it the acciaccatura is placed before the bar lines.

In reply to by :D:D:D

Sorry, I thought you said you were composing a piece, in which case, you are in control of the notation and there is no reason to create confusion in readers of your composition by violating the standards. But if you are copying an existing historical manuscript where the original editor chose to violate the rules (or the rules were different back then), then inadded, as I suggested, still use the "grace note after" but adfd the slash manually if desired. It won't actually mean anything different than without the slash, but it will be a more faithful recreation of the original editor's intention notation.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Funnily enough, this afternoon I was preparing for a performance of the Aragonaise from Bizet's Carmen and spotted this in the 1st clarinet part (Kalmus reprint of Breitkopf and Haertel). 3 out of 4 have the slash. I have never noticed on any of the many previous occasions I have played this. The other woodwinds playing this have the same.


I guess the rules were different back then.

In reply to by SteveBlower

Notation of grace notes has been constantly changing for the past several centuries indeed. This seems to be a sort of specialized situation, it's basically a trill ending and hence notated that way rather than as an acciaccatura Given the context, the actual intended effect is probably neither exactly. But that context is the same with slash or without - it's not an appoggiatura for sure, not a true acciaccatura, but something specific to the juxtaposition with the trill.

In reply to by craigeshea

It's possible you are confusing two different things, since there are different things being discussed here. Best to attach a picture of what you are trying to do and then we can understand and assist better. I'm assuming, though, that it will turn out out to be "grace notes after" in your case just as was proposed here. Those aren't unusual in themselves.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I was referring to the OP wanting to put an acciaccatura before the measure barline, as pictured above. I just came across this in the modern piece I mentioned. The picture above is exactly the same thing I'm trying to achieve--which apparently, MuseScore currently does not currently support. I believe someone commented that perhaps this was an "old style", but perhaps not. :)

In reply to by craigeshea

Are you sure it is truly an acciaccatura, though? That's the part that isn't obvious. We'd need to see the excerpt to understand that, since as mentioned in this thread,d it's easy to mistake the different types of grace notes. The picture I see above, for instance, is pretty clearly not an acciaccatura, but a trill ending; it just happens to have been written with the slash.

And if your example does turn out to be a true acciaccatura, we'd then want know more about the publisher who produced the notation you are looking it to understand if this was truly a conscious notational decision according to their own established notational practice or just a random choice by a fan who transcribed a performance from a recording themselves. Either way, it doesn't change the fact that acciaccaturas before the barline are an older style, but that doesn't mean no one uses it anymore - just that it isn't very common, and unless you are working for that specific publisher, there would be no reason to emulate that style rather than the more common style.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

As a fore note, I will not post the original manuscript. I am not a copyright expert, but I do know that the manuscript was written not long ago, and I just don’t like posting these things in public forums.

I do not want to complicate things further, but what I intended to write is similar to what SteveBlower showed. I was working on a concert arrangement of a unpublished piece, as well as typesetting the manuscript of the original work so things are easier. I wanted to faithfully replicate what the manuscript has written, hence I needed to write out grace notes before bar lines. This is why I asked in the first place.
Firstly, on Marc’s response to the Kalmus typeset. The grace note is not only a trill ending, but a lead in to the next note. It is not 100% an acciacatura, but it has a similar function. The point I want to make here is similar to Schubert and Chopin’s use of long accents. If you have one Ekier Chopin sheet you will know, but Chopin tends to write long accents that are said to be both accents and diminuendos. At least this is what Chopin musicologists say. Schubert is the same thing, but there are not many publishers that reflect this. At the end of the day, it isn’t black or white, and rather has quite a bit of gray. This gray zone is difficult to distinguish between error and intention.
On the practicality of things, I just want to point out that A.Miyoshi does the same thing in En Vers, although in different form. I do understand that it is unconventional notation, but I believe that it sometimes still has some meaning. If you play it, the result may sometimes be the same. Even if there was no intention, what I think is that the performer knowing more about what was written by the composer is a beneficial thing, exactly the same philosophy of Urtext editions.
In reality, the composer should follow the notation rules, and also go through the published edition. However, since the piece I am working on does not have a published (typeset) version, so when the composer went off tracks in notation, there really was not way to figure out if it was intentional or not. My guess is that it is intentional, but I will not go deeper.
Basically, I do care about notation. I will follow the rules showed in many books on the topics when I am composing or whatever. But things are different when someone tries to typeset some other person’s manuscript, with recreating the manuscript as accurately as possible in mind. Hope that this cleared things up. I have figured out how to do it, thanks to a lot of people’s help.
I hate long messages, but here I believe that I have to do this. Thank you for all of the help.

In reply to by :D:D:D

Thanks for the followup! A few observations:

  • You don't have to worry about post short excerpts to a support forum, there won't be any copyright issues with that.

  • Indeed, while unusual, it can occasionally make sense to do this. That's why we've provided information on how to do it. But also, it's important to understand the context so that one doesn't do it without knowing the reasons the original notation was chosen and making the determination of whether it makes sense today. Unless the composer you are working for has informed you not to perform your job as an editor and correct mistakes, or the publisher you are working for has informed you this is to be an "urtext" edition, it's normally your job as editor to correct notational errors and otherwise edit for clarity. So just because the original manuscript shows some particular notation, that does not normally mean you should adhere it - normally your responsibility is exactly the opposite, to edit for clarity, because composers are experts in composition but not necessarily in clear notation.

  • The recent comments were not about your specific use case but another one we have not yet seen the original manuscript for, so it's still not clear if it is truly the same as the trill ending shown or if it was just similar enough to make this thread up in a web search. That's why we're asking for clarification.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

As for "original manuscript"--I am trying to faithfully digitize music in a published book of Ludovico Einaudi pieces so that I can put them on my iPad so that I don't need to travel with heavy music books! :D With the added benefit that the app turns pages for me, to boot! :D In any event, here's a small picture of the piece in question. Again, a modern piece by Einaudi, copywr\=]itten in 2001.

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In reply to by craigeshea

Ah, so this one is not a trill ending, so not exactly like the previous one. The trill ending example is more understandable. This one is not standard at all, and I'm guessing it's not from a major/established publisher. I still wouldn't recommend copying it - better to correct non-standard notations like this while you're at it - but as mentioned before, if you do wish to do that for whatever reason, you can simply add it as a grace not after then add a slash manually from the Symbols palette.

In reply to by craigeshea

That's not one of their usual fonts, and I know the editor I worked for there wouldn't have done things this way. So yeah, they probably are re-publishing on behalf of a subsidiary or something. Anyhow, you can choose to notate it however you like for your own purposes. But it doesn't change the fact this is not the modern standard. Only if there are several graces notes - and thus not true accicaccaturas - would one normally consider moving them before the barline, if it helps to save space and improve vertical alignment of the downbeat. This just isn't normally done for ordinary grace notes like these.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Interesting. Thanks for the insights! Just more as a rhetorical question, terms of engraving, obviously, people have engraved music using this nomenclature--whether or not it's an actual acciaccatura. So, why wouldn't MuseScore allow people to "typeset" the music as it appears? I suppose the difficulty would be, how would one play such an "engraving" when converted to say, MIDI? But then, I guess one could provide options to specify how it ought to be played in MIDI. But this has the risk of making the software overly complicated/complex, I suppose.

Anyway, thanks again for the insights!

In reply to by craigeshea

Again, MuseScore does let you typeset this if you want. You just need to add it as a grace note after and add the slash manually, as explained previously. MuseScore tries to make standard things easy and automatic; non-standard things will generally require an extra step or two. Non-standard things that are nonetheless common requests are often made pretty easy too. Non=standard things that only come up once every few years - like this - tend to be prioritized lower, but sometimes get implemented eventually as well (since MuseScore is open source after all).

The most common request for grace notes is for before the beat playback. Also, the ability to add an acciaccatura without a slash, since this has been common. So I fully expect to see these features added in the not distant future. If enough people also request a more direct way to create the before-the-barline acciaccaturas, that could well happen too. Realistically, the complication in doing so would actually be the engraving. Most things in MuseScore are calculated on measure at a time, so there really isn't a good way to have a symbol that "belong" to one measure get displayed in another. It would be especially tricky if the measures ended up being on different systems or different pages. But again, if enough people request it, and one of them happens to be a programmer interested in making it happen, anything is possible.

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