We designate a note or chord as unaccented when they are played or sung on a “weak” beat within a meter.


Because notes and chords “carry” metric weight and energy. Notes and chords played on the beat feel more “stable” or “rooted” than notes and chords played before or after a beat.


Here are three life-giving effects you can create with an unaccented note or chord.

  1. The pickup is an unaccented note or chord that feels like it leads to or pulls toward an upcoming note or chord.

2. Upbeat notes can make a melody feel edgy or agitated.

3. Syncopation. We can treat a note or chord that an unaccented note or chord (or series of notes or chords)

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