Ornamentation in Baroque Era – Part I

1.  Appoggiatura

The Appoggiatura (Ital. appogiare, to lean) is an auxiliary note, more or less stressed and commonly (although not necessarily) dissonant to the harmony where it resolves. An appoggiatura is a dissonant essentially both of melody and harmony in structure, which acts as a suspension, except it does not require to be prepared.

When consonant, an appoggiatura is a melody and perhaps rhythm but does not necessarily involve harmony.

It is a general rule, that one must make a small separation between the appoggiatura and the note which precedes it, and ensure that the two notes are at the same pitch.

Appoggiatura takes the beat, any ornament which is called an appoggiatura, but does not take the beats is a miscalled”

Joachim Quanzt

 All appoggiaturas must come exactly on the beat, the accompanying part must not be delayed, but should be played simultaneously with the appoggiatura. Early Baroque appoggiaturas were shown at a very moderate length, longer appoggiaturas were shown from about the last quarter of the 17th century and the impact on the harmony became substantial. By the 18th Century appoggiaturas tended to grow longer as the century went on.

Appoggiatura should be louder than the main note on to which it resolves. It is a dissonance to which the main note becomes the resolution of the harmony. It is only natural that the short appoggiatura appears most often before quick notes; played so fast that the ensuing note loses hardly any of its length.

In an Adagio, the short appoggiatura is more expressive when occurring on the 1st eight note of triplets. In all respects, short appoggiatura behaves like long appoggiatura, it takes the beat, performed very briefly on the beat of the main note.

2. Acciacatura

 There are two types of Acciaccatura:

a) Simultaneous Acciacatura

i) On-the-beat Acciacatura

 The first type is an auxiliary note of dissonance that is struck simultaneously with its main notes and is rapidly released while the main note continues to sound.This is an ornament chiefly for the harpsichord where a sudden sharpness and accent effect is produced. It is excellent for brilliant passages. Since it is also called on-the-beat ornaments as it simultaneously coincides on the main beat. Simultaneous acciaccatura is also extremely effective on the piano extended to the 19th Century technique.

ii) Auxiliary Acciacatura

An auxiliary note of acciaccatura is struck in between two main notes, usually a 3rd apart; the auxiliary note is released quick enough as the main notes from before and after continue to sound. It produces a certain after-effect dissonance.

This passing acciaccatura is only suitable for a keyboard instrument. It is different from the simultaneous acciaccatura (on-the-beat) as it falls precisely in between the main notes, the passing acciaccatura is a between-beat ornament.

Sometimes a dissonant is created which consists of acciaccatura of two, three or four notes fall upon the next. This is called between-beat passing appoggiaturas or best described as ‘a little before the beat’ but between the beats in a usual way.

The early 18th Century places an immense value of passing acciaccatura as filling out the sonority and enriching the harmony on the harpsichord especially accompanying recitatives.

‘Even three of four adjacent notes in a slightly spread arpeggio which releases the false, or non-chordal notes’

Johann David Heiniken

The chord always gets slightly spread and so in practice the keys get released shorter and quicker one after another that one hears a glorious tone-cluster.

A performer will appropriately introduce the passing appoggiatura especially when accompanying recitative, by giving the passing acciaccatura – an arpeggiation not for melodic purpose but to provide a sonorous support on the harpsichord.

b. Slide

The slide comprises of stepwise pair of auxiliary notes, that takes accent on the beat and hence delays the main note just as the appoggiatura. This is used on melodic figuration on the keyboard.

Part II to be continued.

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