An acciaccatura note is an extremely short note played before the actual note
that is supposed to be played. It is a grace note, such as the appoggiatura note, but not played for as
The acciaccatura is sometimes referred to as the short appoggiatura since the techniques only differ based on
how long the grace note is held.
The piano acciaccatura is a common technique in virtuoso level piano pieces, but also appears in many
intermediate level songs.
Playing an acciaccatura note is not conceptually very difficult. The acciaccatura note is tied to one of the
notes in the song. You press down the key for the acciaccatura note and immediately switch to the note it is tied
to in the song. The listener hears a slight pitch movement at the very beginning of the note, which puts more
emphasis on the actual note.
There is no specific amount of time the acciaccatura note is held, but it needs to be extremely short compared
to the length of the note being played, otherwise it sounds like a note from the melody rather than a grace
While the acciaccatura note is conceptually easy to play, it does take a good amount of practice to perfect. The
pianist needs to quickly and smoothly change between the two notes. In addition, the acciaccatura cannot be help
too long or it becomes an appoggiatura note.
There are two potential options timing wise for the acciaccatura note. The most common method is to have the
acciaccatura start on the beat the melody note is supposed to start in and then switch part way through the
duration of the note.
The less common and slightly more difficult method is to start the
acciaccatura note slightly before the beat of the melody note. The melody note is then played on the beat
rather than slightly off it. Composers rarely make a distinction between the two timing variations, so it is
usually a matter left to the discretion of the pianist.
The piano acciaccatura technique has another method of being played that is not possible on many other
instruments. Rather than playing the acciaccatura note and then the actual melody note, both notes are pressed down
simultaneously. The acciaccatura key is almost immediately released.
The length the acciaccatura note plays is the same as the normal method. The only difference is the melody note
starts playing earlier than normal. The distinction between this method and the normal technique is minor. Using
this variant of the acciaccatura is a matter of artist preference and style rather than something used differently
from a musical standpoint.
As with other types of grace notes, the piano acciaccatura is a technique that can usually be omitted for
beginners. The note serves no real purpose in the melody and dropping it does not change the overall sound of the
song. However, intermediate and upper level players should learn to incorporate this technique in their
These techniques draw attention and emphasize notes in the melody, allowing more complex piano dynamics to be created. The piano player can draw attention to notes
that they want to emphasize. In addition, the technique is very common in songs, so pianists are often expected to
use the acciaccatura and other grace notes properly when auditioning or performing.