Today I’ll take a look into acciaccature, note ornaments commonly found in guitar music of the classical period.

Typically, in classical guitar repertory, an acciaccatura is notated with a slash through and is therefore easily recognisable.

The word acciaccatura comes from the Italian verb schiacciare, “to crush”. Contrary to appoggiatura, which comes from the Italian verb appoggiare, “to lean upon”, acciaccatura needs to be played as fast as possible, immediately before the principal note.

To learn how to play acciaccature properly, here’s a few things to know:

They should be:
– fast
– loud enough
– well articulated

So, how do you achieve this?

One of my favourite ways to practice acciaccature is by playing Mauro Giuliani’s Andantino n. 4, opus 1. To download the score of this piece, simply click on the link at the bottom of this page.

First of all, practice the movements very slowly at first. I would set the metronome at 80 beats per second and start practicing ascending slurs from Abel Carlevaro’s Cuaderno no. 3 from his Serie didactica para guitarra. You can also find this exercise in my “Daily Warm-Up Routine” video.

Secondly, remember we’re building up melodies on principal notes, not the grace notes, so I think it’s important not only to apply good amount of pressure, but also to do the movement as fast and clear as possible.

In essence, the piece should sound almost as if there were no ornaments, with the melody clearly recognisable.

Beside the speed, what I discovered helps enormously in achieving a clear acciaccatura, is the positioning of the left hand. Make sure to have some room between your palm and the fingerboard just below the first string, place your fingers perpendicular to the fingerboard.

Link to the free score: Mauro Giuliani – Op. 1

2 Comments

  • Thanks to share this. I’m your french fan club :o)

    I cannot find the score in your link – or at least seems not free –
    Link is wrong or I need to do something to get it ?

    Anyway, thanks for your work and you music !

    • It’s free, you just need to wait for 15 seconds (a new way by IMSLP to enforce memberships), but you can definitely download the complete score for free after that.

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