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#2049263 - 03/16/13 06:30 PM What is happing with the F notes in the bass clef  
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hamlet cat Offline
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Mojave Desert
Can someone please help me understand what is happening in the bass clef here? The timing is 3/4. The two F notes are tied together in a way that I've never encountered previously. This type of pattern repeats throughout the song.

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#2049281 - 03/16/13 06:50 PM Re: What is happing with the F notes in the bass clef [Re: hamlet cat]  
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kapelli Online content
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Poland
imagine that before this F without dot you have a quarter note pause.
Now it should be clear for you.

#2049283 - 03/16/13 06:52 PM Re: What is happing with the F notes in the bass clef [Re: hamlet cat]  
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packa Offline
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There are two voices in the bass clef. The dotted half note F2 begins on the first beat and extends for the whole measure. The other voice, also beginning on the first beat, is the slurred figure from F2 through A2 (the eighth notes) to F3 (the half note). Each voice occupies 3 beats in the measure (since it's 3/4 meter), and you are expected to play both voices with the LH (i.e. the low F2 needs to be held for the whole measure either by finger or by pedal while you play the other voice).

The fact that each voice begins on the same note explains why the two noteheads are side by side. This notation is not unusual (and it doesn't mean that you play the note twice or anything).

Note that there are two voices in the RH as well.


Paul Buchanan
Estonia L168 #1718
#2049291 - 03/16/13 07:10 PM Re: What is happing with the F notes in the bass clef [Re: hamlet cat]  
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hamlet cat Offline
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Mojave Desert
I re-read your replies a couple of times and I'm still not fully understanding the need for the notation of the F to be written as it is. If the F2 was just written as a half dotted note, and tied to the F3, wouldn't that properly represent the way its played? Sorry for being confused, but it appears to contradict the 3 beats per measure, extending it to 3 and 1/8 beats.

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#2049311 - 03/16/13 07:48 PM Re: What is happing with the F notes in the bass clef [Re: hamlet cat]  
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Wuffski Offline
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Reading in the bass cleff only the 3 notes having the stems up makes sense, and reading only the 1 note having the stem down makes also sense: imagine that one person sings the stem up notes, while in parallel a second person sings the stem down note. Both voices are written in the same bass cleff.
If you play as one person with one hand on one piano the bass cleff, the notation could be summarized to only represent the keys you should press in a certain moment, and then notation could look different, as you assume correctly. But the information that you should treat it at least in your mind as two voices would be lost by such notation. And it is not only about respecting the presence of two voices as something theoretically to be ket in mind only, but you actually could play both voices differently: one a little bit louder than the other, or one more legato and the other less legato, for instance - like the two person would maybe sing differently. Ok, the first two F2 notated at the beginning of the presented measure will stay on your piano only a one-strike--one-tone action, but the 'double' notation of this on your piano 'single' key strike supports you to realize in what the one and the other voice are in that moment involved in.

#2049322 - 03/16/13 08:09 PM Re: What is happing with the F notes in the bass clef [Re: hamlet cat]  
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Here's some color coding to suggest the voices in this measure. To be completely correct, each of the four voices needs to account for all three beats in the measure (as they do here):

[Linked Image]

The voices in green need to sound for all of the beats of the measure. When you get to beat two in the LH, you will continue to sound the low F2 while you also sound the F3 that completes the second voice (and in the RH, the low A3 needs to be sustained for the whole measure while the melody sounds over it). The arc symbol in the LH is a slur, not a tie. Is that any clearer?


Paul Buchanan
Estonia L168 #1718
#2049323 - 03/16/13 08:10 PM Re: What is happing with the F notes in the bass clef [Re: hamlet cat]  
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Some of the responses seem a little too vague to me, even if I understand what they're saying.

Simply put you are to play the F as if it's part of the arpeggio F - A - F, nicely phrased. But you happen to leave the F held for the full duration of the measure. Voicing - it belongs to the arpeggio; but hold it for the measure.

You might want to practice this by releasing the F till you have the arpeggio phrased nicely; then leave it held.

Hope that's clear.


  • Debussy - Le Petit Nègre, L. 114
  • Haydn - Sonata in Gm, Hob. XVI/44

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#2049344 - 03/16/13 08:51 PM Re: What is happing with the F notes in the bass clef [Re: hamlet cat]  
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Originally Posted by hamlet cat
I'm still not fully understanding the need for the notation of the F to be written as it is. If the F2 was just written as a half dotted note, and tied to the F3, wouldn't that properly represent the way its played?


Sometimes notation is written to express a way to conceptualize the music. It isn't always enough to show 'the way it is played.'

Originally Posted by hamlet cat
Sorry for being confused, but it appears to contradict the 3 beats per measure, extending it to 3 and 1/8 beats.


No need to apologize.
Both notes start on beat one, exactly as the two notes in the treble clef do, so there are still only 3 beats in the measure.


Having power is not nearly as important as what you choose to do with it.
– Roald Dahl

#2049357 - 03/16/13 09:33 PM Re: What is happing with the F notes in the bass clef [Re: hamlet cat]  
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hamlet cat Offline
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Mojave Desert
I think I understand both technically what is happening, as well as the musical intention for writing it the way it is now. Collectively all of your responses helped me see the big picture.

Packa, thank you for color coding. It helped me visualize it, along with your explanation of why it is phrased as it is. Andy, I began to understand it more clearly with Packa's explanation, but you helped reenforce my understanding.

The bar is from the song Ne Me Quitte Pas in A minor. I'll start working on it tomorrow. This will definitely help me.

Last edited by hamlet cat; 03/16/13 09:35 PM.
#2049365 - 03/16/13 09:47 PM Re: What is happing with the F notes in the bass clef [Re: hamlet cat]  
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Had it not been the F in the treble clef, you could play the treble C and bass F with the sostenuto pedal. As it is, you just have to hold down both notes for the measure while playing the others.


Art is never finished, only abandoned. - da Vinci
#2049370 - 03/16/13 10:00 PM Re: What is happing with the F notes in the bass clef [Re: hamlet cat]  
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Just for some more clarification ... Hopefully this will help you too. This is called "two-part writing" ... You basically have 2 melodies going on. There is a melody and a counter-melody. When both parts are written on the same staff, the note stems of the upper melody are turned up and the note stems of the lower melody are turned down. So on the bass Clef that you shared, the upper and lower melody begin on the same note (F), but the notes are different lengths (upper melody F is an 8th note, lower melody F is a dotted half. You play the F only once, and hold it for the value of the dotted half while the upper melody continues on. Hope that helps too! smile


~ Heather smile

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“The piano ain't got no wrong notes.” ― Thelonious Monk
#2049429 - 03/17/13 12:03 AM Re: What is happing with the F notes in the bass clef [Re: hamlet cat]  
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Just to clarify one more minor point about notation. On beat one, the D quarter note and the A dotted half note in the RH are shown in exact vertical alignment. Of course, this is because they are played at the same time. If possible, the engraver would have tried to align the F eighth note and the F dotted half note at the beginning of the measure for the LH in some similar manner. But the black note head of the eighth note would have obscured the white note head of the dotted half note, so superimposing them on top of each other was not a choice. In these kinds of cases, the note heads are usually placed side by side to make the color of each one clear. But they still occupy the same time point in the measure.

There are other cases where note heads might be superimposed but with two stems, one pointing up and one pointing down (indicating that the same pitch was part of two voices). This can only occur if the note heads are both black or white. Since that wasn't the case here, the adjacent layout was used. Probably more than you wanted to know.


Paul Buchanan
Estonia L168 #1718
#2049457 - 03/17/13 02:18 AM Re: What is happing with the F notes in the bass clef [Re: hamlet cat]  
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The dotted notes are held (using the pedal) for the length of the measure ... the A in the treble and the F in the bass ... not exactly mind-bending basic.

Didn’t Hamlet (who couldn’t make up his mind)
cop it in the last chapter? ... all that “to be, or not to be” twaddle might have been avoided if the Bard had run out of ink.

#2049473 - 03/17/13 03:24 AM Re: What is happing with the F notes in the bass clef [Re: btb]  
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Charles Cohen Offline
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Originally Posted by btb
The dotted notes are held (using the pedal) for the length of the measure ... the A in the treble and the F in the bass ... not exactly mind-bending basic.


If you use the pedal, you'll muddy-up the right-hand notes. Very sloppy.

Better to just hold down the 5 and 1 (the two F's) in the left hand, and the 1 (A) in the right hand.

Nobody said piano was easy (except the violinists).

. Charles


. Charles
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#2049569 - 03/17/13 09:48 AM Re: What is happing with the F notes in the bass clef [Re: btb]  
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malkin Offline
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Originally Posted by btb
Didn’t Hamlet (who couldn’t make up his mind) cop it in the last chapter?


No chapters; Hamlet is a play.


Originally Posted by btb
... all that “to be, or not to be” twaddle might have been avoided if the Bard had run out of ink.


Lord, what fools these mortals be.


Having power is not nearly as important as what you choose to do with it.
– Roald Dahl

#2049583 - 03/17/13 10:17 AM Re: What is happing with the F notes in the bass clef [Re: hamlet cat]  
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On a vu souvent rejaillir le feu d'un volcan qu'on croyait trop vieux
Il est parait-il des terres brulées recouvertes de blé en meilleur avril
Je t’emmènerais des perles de pluie d'un pays où il ne pleut pas ...

... et ne me quittes pas, ne me quittes pas, ne me quittes pas

#2050000 - 03/18/13 01:04 AM Re: What is happing with the F notes in the bass clef [Re: hamlet cat]  
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btb Offline
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Mr Cohen probably wears a tie when he plays Beethoven ... and is so upper crust that he doesn’t use the pedal ... prefers to break fingers trying to hold some notes while unsloppily tagging in the others around the opening dotted notes.

Some of us have been in the game a long time and briefly depress the pedal at the start of the measure and gently finger in the remaining notes.

I’m wearing jeans to play my Grotrian Steinweg ...
Ludwig doesn’t seem to mind.


Will have to explain my Hamlet jokes to newcomer malkin ...
thanks for the correction old chap ... am still able to recite the “to be, or not to be” soliloquy off the cuff ...
Ye Olde Prince of Denmark is tainted by the deadly rapier at the close and, what with royalty dying around him like flies, says “I am dead Horatio”... Fortinbras sounds trumpets ...
and we take a stiff brandy ... and might just like to check on our own relations still hopping around on this mortal coil.


Might just add that I own the VCR of
Laurence Olivier’s “Hamlet” (Oscar best actor 1948)
with such famous actors as

Eileen Herlie (Queen Gertrude)
Basil Sydney (King Claudius),
Norman Wooland (Horatio),
Felis Aylmer (Polonius),
Terrence Morgan (Laertes),
Jean Simmons (Ophelia),
Peter Cushing (Osric),
Stanley Holloway (grave-digger),
Russell Thorndyke (the Priest)

Musn't forget to give the Bard a pat on the back for giving
us a worthy script ... glad he didn't run out of ink or quills.



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