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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 
Anacrusis, in red, beginning Luigi Boccherini's Minuet About this sound Play 

In poetry and music, and by analogy in other fields, an anacrusis (plural anacruses) is a brief introduction.


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 (also known as a pickup) is a note or sequence of notes which precedes the first downbeat in a bar.[2]

Western standards for musical notation often include the recommendation that when a piece of music begins with an anacrusis, the notation should omit a corresponding number of beats from the final bar in order to keep the length of the entire piece at a whole number of bars.

If anacrusis is present, the first bar after the anacrusis is assigned bar number 1.


  • 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. d16
     e4-> d g
     fis2-> d8. d16
    \bar "|"
   \addlyrics {
     Hap -- py birth -- day to you. Hap -- py...
   \addlyrics { "_" }
x / x x / x x / x x /  
Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn's ear- ly light . . .

Other fields[edit]

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]

See also[edit]


  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.