Music: Practice & Theory Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for musicians, students, and enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

So on the sheet music I was playing there were these notes with x's on top of them. Like on the stem. What am I supposed to do? Do I just not play them? This is for the piano by the way.

share|improve this question
Please provide more information such as title/composer and edition of the piece, and/or a screenshot. – NReilingh Jun 14 '13 at 4:01
Nonstandard markings are usually explained in a pre/postface (or footnotes). If you don't have those you probably have a copy so go find the original! ;) – nonpop Jun 14 '13 at 9:10

Were this for guitar to play, it would show muted notes - notes of a time value but no actual pitch - a 'click'. It's not possible to do this on a piano, so I'd say it's a combination piece of music.Had the x been in front of a note, like a # or b , then it WOULD be a double sharp, the note being played a tone above the basic note.These are quite rare, so you wouldn't find lots anyway, and generally found in 'sharp' keys. Don't think knowing what key the piece is in will help. It looks like it changes through many keys, is it occurring in one particular part ?

share|improve this answer
"X's" for noteheads in piano notation may be used for striking the body of the instrument, clapping, foot-stamping, or other percussive indications. – jjmusicnotes Jun 14 '13 at 19:26
@jjmusicnotes True, but this could also be a jazz transcription where the x's are intended to be ghosted. – NReilingh Jun 15 '13 at 1:39
@NReilingh - also true - there are dozens of uses for "x" shaped noteheads depending on which instrument they are used for. My comment was not to describe their use, but rather to refute the idea that "x" shaped noteheads are not used in piano notation. As an aside to Tim - pianos actually can be muted in a couple of different ways, but the notation is different. – jjmusicnotes Jun 15 '13 at 2:29
Well i dont think its a jazz piece, it's Honor to Us All from Mulan. And it's only piano. It came from this book of sheet music I bought. So does it mean I should just tap something to the notes with the x's rhythm? – Jinan Jun 15 '13 at 4:58
Thanks, jjmusicnotes, I imagine muting a piano would be a permanent thing for the whole tune? Having listened to this and looked at various dots, I haven't found a version with anything different from normal piano. Jinan, Could you post the version you ask about, please? – Tim Jun 15 '13 at 7:45

It could be a typesetting failure. You often get "x" instead of noteheads when the music type font is not working on the computer. Maybe the music is faulty!

share|improve this answer

On the piano this could be a fingering notation, where x is the thumb. So for the right hand you would have (x 1 2 3 4). A giveaway would be that no note has 5 over it.

share|improve this answer
Unimaginably unlikely. There was something called "English fingering", in which the five fingers were +1234, with + for the thumb, but never 'x' as far as I know. And this was just about totally replaced by about 1950 by something called "Continental fingering" (which is the universal system used now). – Brian Chandler Nov 5 '15 at 9:13

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.