In music, a mordent is an ornament indicating that the note is to be played with a single rapid alternation with the note above or below. Like trills, they can be chromatically modified by a small flat, sharp or natural accidental. The term comes from the Latin mordere, meaning "to bite."

The mordent is thought of as a rapid single alternation between an indicated note, the note above (the upper mordent) or below (the lower mordent) and the indicated note again.

The upper mordent is indicated by a short squiggle;
the lower mordent is the same with a short vertical line through it:
As with the trill, the exact speed with which the mordent is performed will vary according to the tempo of the piece, but at moderate tempi the above might be executed as follows: Upper and lower mordent execution.png

The precise meaning of mordent has changed over the years. In the Baroque period, a mordent was a lower mordent and an upper mordent was a pralltriller or schneller. In the 19th century, however, the name mordent was generally applied to what is now called the upper mordent, and the lower mordent became known as an inverted mordent.[1]

In other languages the situation is different: for example in German Pralltriller and Mordent are still the upper and lower mordents respectively. Also note that this ornament in French, and sometimes in German, is spelled mordant.

Although mordents are now thought of as just a single alternation between notes, in the Baroque period it appears that a Mordent may sometimes have been executed with more than one alternation between the indicated note and the note below, making it a sort of inverted trill.

Also, mordents of all sorts might typically, in some periods, begin with an extra unessential note (the lesser, added note), rather than with the principal note as shown in the examples here. The same applies to trills, which in Baroque and Classical times would typically begin with the added, upper note. Practice, notation, and nomenclature vary widely for all of these ornaments, and this article as a whole addresses an approximate nineteenth-century standard.

See also


  1. ^ Taylor, Eric (1989). The AB Guide to Music Theory. London: Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. p. 93. ISBN 1-85472-446-0. 

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Mordent — Mordent, eine Spielmanier, welche zur Auszierung der Melodie gebraucht wird. Man unterscheidet den langen od. doppelten M., bezeichnet durch , u. den kurzen od. einfachen M., bezeichnet durch . Die M n werden trillerähnlich mit dem Ton, worüber… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • mordent — MORDÉNT s.m. v. mordant. Trimis de ana zecheru, 13.09.2007. Sursa: DEX 98  mordént (muz.) s. m. Trimis de siveco, 10.08.2004. Sursa: Dicţionar ortografic  MORDÉNT s.m. (muz.) Semn de ornament care indic …   Dicționar Român

  • mordent — [môr′dənt] n. [Ger < It mordente, prp. of mordere < L, to bite: see MORDANT] Music an ornament made by a single rapid alternation of a principal tone with a subsidiary tone a half step or whole step below: in a double mordent there are two… …   English World dictionary

  • Mordent — (ital. Mordénte, Beißer, franz. Pincé, Mordant), musikal. Verzierung, die aus einem einmaligen schnellen Wechsel der Hauptnote mit der untern kleinen Sekunde besteht und durch gefordert wird. Muß die Hilfsnote chromatisch verändert werden, so… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • mordent — mòrdent m DEFINICIJA glazb. jedan od najčešćih muzičkih znakova, srodan trileru; sastoji se od brze izmjene glavnog tona s gornjim i donjim susjednim tonom ETIMOLOGIJA njem. Mordent ← tal. mordente: koji grize ≃ lat. mordere …   Hrvatski jezični portal

  • mordent — index caustic Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • Mordent — нем. [морде/нт], англ. [мо/дэнт] mordente ит. [мордэ/нтэ] мордент (мелизм) …   Словарь иностранных музыкальных терминов

  • Mordent — Es gibt in der Musik eine Reihe von Verzierungen oder Ornamenten (frz.: agréments). Es handelt sich dabei um Zusätze zum „eigentlichen“ Notentext, meistens in Form spezieller Zeichen. Beim Ausführen der Verzierungen bleibt dem Interpreten ein je… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • mordent — /mawr dnt/, n. Music. 1. a melodic embellishment consisting of a rapid alternation of a principal tone with the tone a half or a whole step below it, called single or short when the auxiliary tone occurs once and double or long when this occurs… …   Universalium

  • mordent — noun Etymology: Italian mordente, literally, biting, pungent, from Latin mordent , mordens, present participle of mordēre Date: 1806 a musical ornament made by a quick alternation of a principal tone with the tone immediately below it …   New Collegiate Dictionary

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.