The embellishment of a melody, either by adding notes or by modifying rhythms

Ornamentation, in music, refers to the embellishment or decoration of a melody or musical passage. It involves the addition of extra notes, trills, turns, grace notes, and other melodic or rhythmic flourishes to enhance the expressiveness and beauty of the music.

Ornamentation has been an integral part of music across various genres and historical periods. It can be found in classical music, baroque music, folk music, jazz, and many other styles. Different musical traditions and periods have their own specific ornamentation techniques and conventions.

In classical music, composers such as Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Franz Joseph Haydn often indicated specific ornaments in their compositions, but performers were also expected to add their own ornaments based on the musical style and personal interpretation. These ornaments could include trills, mordents, turns, appoggiaturas, and various types of grace notes.

Baroque music, in particular, placed great importance on ornamentation. Performers were encouraged to add improvised or written ornaments to the music, showcasing their virtuosity and creativity. Ornamentation in baroque music served as a means of expression, adding embellishments to the basic melody and enhancing its emotional impact.

In folk music traditions, ornamentation varies widely depending on the culture and region. It can involve sliding notes, bends, vibrato, and other techniques that give the music its distinct character and flavor.

In jazz, ornamentation plays a crucial role in improvisation. Jazz musicians often embellish melodies with slides, grace notes, chromatic passing tones, and other decorative elements, adding their own personal style and improvisational flair to the music.

Example of Ornamentation

Music Theory | 2.3 Ornaments