Saturday, June 9, 2012

Thoughts on Grace Notes

Grace notes are funny little things.  They ornament and enhance the note to which they are attached, but from a position of submission and service.  By definition they cannot stand alone. Grace notes are printed much smaller than the principal note, often with a slash through the stem (ouch!). 

What's even more remarkable about grace notes, however, is that they have no mathematical value in terms of the beats per measure.  In other words, they don't count.  If you have four beats per measure, the grace notes will not be included in those four beats.  Sure, they take a small amount of time away from the note to which they are attached, but they are not factored in when writing the music.

Small, seemingly insignificant, marred, and counting for nothing... yet they're referred to as "grace notes".  Why?

"Grace" as a verb can mean the following things:  to beautify, enrich, elevate, ennoble, honour, favour, dignify, or distinguish.  A grace note does all of these things for the principal note to which it is attached.  And I begin to formulate an intention:

I want to be a grace note.  I don't mind being small, seemingly insignificant or even marred.  Counting for nothing is a harder pill to swallow.  But to beautify, enrich, elevate, ennoble, honour, favour, dignify or distinguish this amazing country which I now call home... that is what I long to do.  I know I have a long way to go, but that's okay.  If I've learned anything in the past four months, it's that questioning and defining your intentions counts for a lot.


Dianne said...

Above all, you are a grace note to our Lord.

Tammy and Joe said...

This sounds like a great lesson for my new band students. I'll get started on that very soon - we land on July 24. Hope to meet you sometime after that.