Anacrusis, or pickup measure, in piano music.
An anacrusis holding one pickup note. Image © Brandy Kraemer


The anacrusis is a note or series of notes that comes before the first complete measure of a composition; an introductory (and optional) measure that does not hold the number of beats expressed by the time signature.

The anacrusis prepares your ears for the next measure’s downbeat, and is therefore sometimes referred to as the upbeat. In traditional notation, the amount of beats in the anacrusis is taken out of the very last measure of the song to even out the difference.

Plural: Anacruses

Also Known As:

  • pickup; pickup note(s); pickup measure
  • anacrusi (It)
  • anacrouse (Fr)
  • Auftakt; Aufschlag (Ger)

Pronunciation: an'-uh-KROO-siss, an'-uh-KROO-seas (pl)