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For the Progressive/Thrash Metal group, see Anacrusis (band). For the family of moths, see Anacrusis (genus).
Beginning of BWV 736, with an anacrusis shown in red. About this sound Play 

In poetry, a set of extrametrical syllables at the beginning of a verse is said to stand in anacrusis (Ancient Greek: ἀνάκρουσις "pushing up"). The technique is seen Old English poetry;[1] in lines of iambic pentameter, the technique applies a variation on the typical pentameter line causing it to appear at first glance as trochaic.

In music, an anacrusis is the note or sequence of notes which precedes the first downbeat in a bar.[2] In the latter sense an anacrusis is often called a pickup or pickup note. Western standards for musical notation often include the recommendation that when a piece of written music begins with an anacrusis, the composer, copyist, typesetter, or printer should delete a corresponding number of beats from the written music's final bar in order to keep the number of bars in the entire piece at a whole number.

In academic publishing, the term is sometimes used in an article to mark an introductory idea standing between the abstract and the introduction proper.[3]

The plural of anacrusis is anacruses (see Ancient Greek grammar).

Examples (music)[edit]

  • In the song "Happy Birthday to You", the anacrusis forms the Happy and the accent is on the first syllable of Birthday.

  \relative g' {
    \key g \major \time 3/4
    \partial 8*2 d8 d8
     e4-> d4 g4
     fis2-> d8 d8
    \bar "|"
   \addlyrics {
     Hap -- py birth -- day to you. Hap -- py...

x / x x /  x x / x x /
Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn's ear- ly light. . .
˘ ˘ ¯ ˘ ˘    ¯ ˘ ˘ ¯ ˘      . . .


  1. ^ McCully, C. B. (1996). English Historical Metrics. Cambridge. p. 35. ISBN 9780521554640. 
  2. ^ Randel, Don Michael, ed. (2003). The Harvard Dictionary of Music (4th ed.). Cambridge: Belknap Press. p. 42. ISBN 0-674-01163-5. Retrieved 1 January 2015. 
  3. ^ An example of this use can be seen at Preece, D. A. (1987). "Good Statistical Practice". The Statistician. D 36: 397. 

See also[edit]