Musical Improvisation - Embellishments

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In music an embellishment is simply “a bunch of extra stuff”. Here we add a number of grace notes to the start of our “real” notes.


This is probably not a very good example—it is trying to show way too many options. In the first bar the grace notes are a “traditional” way a scoop might be notated; in the third bar we use a conventional jazz notation. In bars two and four we show a fall at the end of a note; yes, a curve is played differently from a straight line. But, try it, slowly at first. Can you slur the grace notes? Play them separately? Make the slur sound like a slide (like a trombone).

You can add falls at the end of a note (notated by the curve or line after a note), play vibrato on some notes and not others, trills, and anything else which comes to mind. The options are truly limitless. Here are some standard notations used on jazz leadsheets. Endless possibilities!

Remember keep it musical.

Next: Playing with the pitch.

And let me know if this article helps.

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