• It's a note before the first down beat.
  • To add to what breadmanpaul said, a pick up note leads into the following bar. That is to say, it is part of that larger musical phrase.
  • To pick up on what everyone else was saying........ lol A pick up note is simply, an incomplete first measure (of the piece). Everything else is regular until the very last measure where there will be another incomplete measure. The first incomplete measure and the last incomplete measure will add up mathematically. For example: If the piece was in 4/4 time. The song would start on 4. When you reach the end of the piece, the last measure will only have 3 beats, making the first incomplete measure..... complete. People sometimes used pick up notes to make a larger musical phrase.
  • A "pickup" is a musical statement -- typically one note played as an upbeat -- occuring before the downbeat of your first measure. e.g., A note played on the "4" of the count before the "1" of the first measure of the song. This is referred to as an anacrusis.

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