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Sheet music - "wave" sign (Read 3025 times)

Offline ggpianogg

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Sheet music - "wave" sign
« on: February 14, 2010, 09:49:34 PM »
Hi guys,

Very quick question:



What does the "wave" sign (marked in a red circle) mean, how to interpret it? Or at least - what's it called (so I can search it up)? Thanks in advance.

Offline georgecziffra

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Re: Sheet music - "wave" sign
«Reply #1 on: February 14, 2010, 09:59:45 PM »
It's a mordent, judging by the context, I'm guessing an upper mordent, meaning you play the note like a trill, but a very short one. Basically, you play (assuming it's on the Treble clef) A-B-A quickly.

Offline quantum

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Re: Sheet music - "wave" sign
«Reply #2 on: February 14, 2010, 10:06:31 PM »
Bach D minor invention?
Made a Liszt. Need new Handel's for Soler panel & Alkan foil. Will Faure Stein on the way to pick up Mendels' sohn. Josquin get Wolfgangs Schu with Clara. Gone Chopin, I'll be Bach

Offline ggpianogg

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Re: Sheet music - "wave" sign
«Reply #3 on: February 15, 2010, 11:29:40 AM »
Bach D minor invention?

Exactly! respect :)

georgecziffra,

Does it mean that we play (quickly) the pitch which has the mordent above it, followed by a whole tone above it, then the same pitch (the one with the mordent) again, and then continue forward?

So if, for example, if we had (on the staff) the pitches C, E and A, with a mordent above the E. Would we play it like this:

C - E F# E (quickly) - A?


Offline daniloperusina

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Re: Sheet music - "wave" sign
«Reply #4 on: February 15, 2010, 11:49:35 AM »
It follows the scale. If F# is in the scale it would be so, if F is in the scale it would be E-F-E. The point is, it's the note above, whichever it is. If, say, the scale has F, but the composer wanted E-F#-E, he would have to put a # sign above the mordent.

Offline ggpianogg

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Re: Sheet music - "wave" sign
«Reply #5 on: February 15, 2010, 01:00:29 PM »
Very clear (as always :)) thanks a lot!

Offline quantum

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Re: Sheet music - "wave" sign
«Reply #6 on: February 15, 2010, 06:49:30 PM »
In the case of Bach, modents usually start on the upper note.  Using the above example you would get mordent of four notes: Bb-A-Bb-A.  

However there are exceptions.  If the previous note is the same pitch as the upper note of the mordent, one may start on the main note.  Thus you may also elect to play A-Bb-A in this case.

Contrastingly, mordents in romantic period music generally start on the main note.


The pitch of the upper note is usually determined by the scale or harmony surrounding it.  Sometimes accidentals are not always explicitly stated, so you just have to see what fits better into the harmony.
Made a Liszt. Need new Handel's for Soler panel & Alkan foil. Will Faure Stein on the way to pick up Mendels' sohn. Josquin get Wolfgangs Schu with Clara. Gone Chopin, I'll be Bach

Offline nystul

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Re: Sheet music - "wave" sign
«Reply #7 on: February 15, 2010, 09:37:51 PM »
According to Bach's own writings, this symbol is just a trill (so probably strictly interpreted Bb-A-Bb-A, although with the Bb preceding it might be more typical to start with the A).  It gets confusing because these ornaments in Bach's era are used very differently from in the romantic or late classical music.  In later music this would be the type of mordent already described, and even the regular trill would be more likely to start with the written note instead of the note above it.

Also from what I understand, performers in the baroque era would play trills and other ornaments without them even having to be written.  The keyboard instruments of that time did not have the variation in dynamics, tone, or articulation like a piano, so these embellishments allowed some expression.

Offline kookaburra

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Re: Sheet music - "wave" sign
«Reply #8 on: March 14, 2010, 11:49:40 PM »
It's a trill.

Very interesting, never knew it had a special name, 'mordent'.
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Offline avetma

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Re: Sheet music - "wave" sign
«Reply #9 on: April 10, 2010, 04:05:44 PM »
Baroque trill executions: