Slash on each grace note stem?

I am working on a piano project for a client and there are pairs of 8th-note grace notes where he would like a slash on each of the two notes in a pair. I don’t see a way to accomplish this in Dorico4 Pro. I’ve found the grace note settings in Engrave options so I can alter the appearance of the slash, but it still only shows on the first note of the two.
I don’t see any setting for that in the lower panel in Engrave mode either.
Is this possible?
Thanks in advance.

Do they need to remain beamed together or does unbeaming the grace notes produce the required effect?

I will need to ask him, showing him two versions of the music. When I unbeam them, the slashes appear on both notes, but he has them beamed with slashes in the manuscript.
If that’s the only solution at present I’ll present him with both options and let him choose.
Can I put in a request that allowing slashes on all beamed of all acciaccaturae be a switchable option?
Thank you for the suggestion of breaking the beam!

Could you share a picture or something of how the composer notates this in their music?

Here’s the first page of this movement.
Cafune page 1.pdf (788.2 KB)
I realize I can probably add that second slash as a graphic line but I haven’t tried it yet.

This composer’s manuscript is rough enough that he felt it necessary to write “(Grace Notes)” with an arrow. Standard notation the way Dorico does it is quite sufficient to make the difference obvious at a glance. Normally grace notes are stems-up unless they’re in a second voice on the staff. Even clearer and more standard would be to write these pairs of grace notes with 2 beams. One slash across the corner of beams is standard. Slashes on stems are sometimes used to mean something different, so I would argue against using them this way.

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Composers can and do write what they like, but this breaks the conventions of grace note writing, and in my opinion rather than clarifying it makes it more difficult for the performer, having to wonder and doubt what this strange usage actually means, is it to be played differently to normal grace notes? As for the written indication ‘grace notes’, that’s completely redundant in standard practice.

I do not believe in blindly following what composer colleagues have scratched on paper. There is such a thing as editorial discretion. My primary aim in engraving above all is clarity of intention, and this example actually goes against that.

It’s not surprising Dorico does not support this. I have never seen an example of this usage anywhere.


I took that to be instructions for the Engraver. That handwritten score was not meant to be played.

How do you know? :slight_smile: I see stuff like this given to performers all the time.


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A quote often posted on another notation forum:

If the composer says in effect to the performer: “I do not care whether you perform my music or not,” we cannot argue the matter. But if he indicates: “I want you to perform and respond to this music,” then his fundamental duty is to write his music so that it is accessible to interpretation. When the performer cannot approach the composer’s meaning because of capriciously obscure notation, he may in effect say to the composer: “Why should I bother to puzzle out your music?” - Gardner Read


Craig is right in that the manuscript is not meant to be performed from.
I have written to the composer and am waiting to hear back from him. He has been very reasonable in the past, letting me engrave what is conventional rather than following his idiosyncratic manuscript, so I don’t doubt that he wants the same in this case.

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There are plenty of other notational errors here too such as half rests in 3/4 time, consistency with tempo modification placement, slur placement with tied notes, etc. I obviously have no idea who the composer is, but they do not seem overly concerned with “correct” notation conventions. I often end up with a list of questions for the composer when I work on a job, but for something as rough as this I would likely just do it “correctly,” then give the client a version to proof. It’s likely they will prefer the version correctly notated unless they have specific reasons for their notational system.

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I wasn’t asking for advice on anything other than whether the slashes on multiple grace notes was possible, thank you very much. The composer has hired me to properly engrave the music because (wait for it) he DOES care about proper notation, which I am doing, using 2 quarter rests in place of his half-rests in 3/4 time, among other corrections. There seems to be no agreement among the “authorities” on current notation (Gardner Read from the late 20th century and Elizabeth Green from the early 21st century) of multiple grace notes. Elizabeth Green shows them both ways, some double grace notes with a single slash like Dorico shows, others with no slash and Read shows them without any slash.
I was only asking pre-emptively so that if my paying client really wants the double slashes he could get them. Or not, if they truly are against engraving tradition, which it appears they are. Armed with what I’ve learned here I will advise against the slashes on both 8th notes. I’ve sent him a preliminary proof with beamed and unbeamed, and slashed and unslashed grace notes and will let him consider what he wants.

One other thought: you could use unslashed grace notes but show single-stroke tremolos on each stem, if you really wanted to replicate this exactly. Of course, single-stem tremolos mean something quite different generally.

Thank you, Lillie. That’s a great suggestion! I will see what my client wants to have me do.

That’s going to confuse players even more since the tremolo lines are quite thick. That will be misinterpreted as some sort of weird tremolo. Can’t recommend it :frowning:

No matter what one may think about Wikipedia accuracy, this article certainly reflects common practice:

In notation, a grace note is distinguished from a standard note by print size. A grace note is indicated by printing a note much smaller than an ordinary note, sometimes with a slash through the note stem (if two or more grace notes, there might be a slash through the note stem of the first note but not the subsequent grace notes).


But as I said in my first reply, composers can and will write anything and everything. The question is whether one applies editorial discretion to ensure clarity for the player.

The plot thickens. Speaking to my composer colleague who worked in Italy for some, apparently this is a convention seen in some, but not all Italian conservatories, depending on which composer they base their views on, Berio, etc.

So there we go!

You’ll all be quite happy I’m sure to know that I have convinced the composer to let me notate the grace notes as 32nd notes, plain and simple and clear (and as he had notated similar passages later in the piece.) He explained that he had originally wanted that but after discussions with his former composition professor, the professor had encouraged him to notate the first ones as grace notes. So ultimately no notation conventions have been harmed or violated. :slight_smile:

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