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Grace and Cue Notes

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by CEM, Dec 17, 2002.

  1. CEM

    CEM Guest

    Nov 3, 2001
    Cincinnati, OH
    I don't understand the application of grace notes and cue notes - I guess I am not really sure what the difference is. I am new to music notation and the books I have read so far did not explain these concepts to my satisfaction - any help would be great. Thanks
  2. CEM

    CEM Guest

    Nov 3, 2001
    Cincinnati, OH
  3. Nick Gann

    Nick Gann Talkbass' Tubist in Residence

    Mar 24, 2002
    Silver Spring, MD
    Grace notes are used to add just a little bit of extra something to a note, The grace note is so short, it really has no actual duration, and it is just there to add a little blurb of sound. Grace notes are optional, and are used at the descretion of sometimes the ensemble director or the individual player.

    A cue note can be used for a few different purposes. A cue is sometimes used in large ensembles that might be missing certain parts which need to be replaced.

    For example:
    I play tuba, and in many pieces of music, I have cues for instruments like bassoon, baritone sax, bass sax, or contrabass clarinet. Those instruments aren't always found in all groups. If the instrument isn't in the group, I will play the cues so that the part is played. In this case, a cue is used when a part is needed to be played.

    The other use for cues that I have experienced is to help follow along in long periods of rest. The tuba parts can have rests that are obnoxiously long, tens and twentys of measures of rest. The cues for other parts are to help follow along without having to count for an obnoxious amount of time.

    Sorry for the long post. Someone else could probably explain it all in 3 sentences, but I couldn't find the words to make it shorter.

    Hope I helped :)

  4. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    This can be true, but "grace notes" should be interpreted with a decent working knowledge of the style of music they appear in. For instance, in many editions of Mozart sonatas, a grace note is actually supposed to be a 16th note in some cases. In these editions, for example, if you see an a grace note preceeding an 8th and a 16th, the actual interpretation is just a certain type of articulation of a four 16th note pattern.

    In other styles and periods, the grace note may behave as described in quoted post above. The bottom line is that you should be as informed as possible when interpreting ornamentation in written music....it doesn't always mean what it appears to mean at first.
  5. Nick Gann

    Nick Gann Talkbass' Tubist in Residence

    Mar 24, 2002
    Silver Spring, MD

    Listen to Chris before you listen to me. I am only 16, and been playing music in band class. What I have said above is just what I have picked up over the years. I haven't played to many Motzart sonatas in my life... wait.. I've played none ;)

    A rule of thumb that I use when it comes to grace notes and other things that are up to interpretation, just do what feels right. 9 times out of 10, you will know what to do. Use you feel of the song to guide you. You will probably get it on your own.

    And if it is the other 1 time out of 10, someone will be there to help you out :)
  6. CEM

    CEM Guest

    Nov 3, 2001
    Cincinnati, OH
    Thank ylou for the replies - it is a little clearer now. I suppose I will learn the concepts better as I learn to read and write music. Thanks again
  7. frederic b. hodshon

    frederic b. hodshon

    May 10, 2000
    Redmond, WA
    Microsoft Product Designer
    i consider grace notes leading tones into chord tones.

    in classical terms:

    upper and lower neighbors.

    use these as you approach a turnaround or into a new phrase.

    on new tunes that i'm sightreading on a gig, i usually get good results by chord toning the changes up until the 4th, 8th, 16th bar, then i'll add some tension by using non-chord tones leading into a chord tone of the fiest bar of the next harmonic phrase.

    tension and release!

    really propels the tune.