General placement conventions for grace notes

Grace notes function like normal notes in many ways, but there are some specific conventions about their stem direction, position relative to noteheads, and the placement of stem slashes.

Grace notes are always positioned before a notehead, even if they are intended to be played on the beat rather than before the beat. They are normally placed after a barline, so they can be positioned directly before the notehead to which they are attached. You can show grace notes before barlines instead; for example, if you have a group of three or more grace notes and want to reduce the gap between the barline and the first beat in the bar.

Grace note stem slashes appear at the beginning of grace note beams. If there is a single grace note, the slash appears across its stem and flag, if applicable, and extends either side of the stem.

Single slashed grace note
Four grace notes beamed together

Adding accidentals causes their spacing to readjust so that the accidentals are clearly legible, similar to normal notes.

Articulations can be added to grace notes wherever they are most clearly legible, which is most likely outside the staff. Dorico Pro automatically places articulations on the stem-side of grace notes, and outside the staff if the stem or beam is within the staff.

Grace notes in multiple-voice contexts

According to accepted notation convention, grace notes appear stem up by default when there is only one voice on a staff, even if the notehead to which they are attached is stem down.

However, when there are multiple voices on the staff, all notes in the upper voices appear stem up and all notes in the lower voices appear stem down, including grace notes. This also affects the curvature direction of slurs.

This adjustment happens automatically in Dorico Pro, but you can also change the stem direction of grace notes manually.

Grace notes in both up-stem and down-stem voices

Slurs relative to grace notes

By default, slurs starting on grace notes and ending on tie chains end on the first note of the tie chain. You can change the position of individual slurs relative to tie chains, including those starting from grace notes.

You can change the default position of all slurs relative to grace notes, including in multiple-voice contexts, in Engraving Options > Slurs > Grace Notes.

In the Tied Notes section, you can change the default position of slurs relative to tie chains when slurs start on grace notes.

  • You can change the note spacing scale factor for grace notes in each layout independently on the Note Spacing page in Layout Options.

  • You can change the default distance between grace notes and the noteheads to which they apply in Engraving Options > Notes > Grace Notes.