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Today I came across an odd symbol in Béla Bartók's Microkosmos.

The symbol occurs in Book 1, Score 21, Measure 8, at the end of a phrasing slur. It looks like a vertical bar that crosses only the first 2 topmost lines of the staff and it's unmetered.

My wild guess is that is a kind of very brief, unmetered rest similar to the breath mark in vocal music ...

What it is and how can I write it in Lilypond ?

Many thanks.

Strange music symbol

PS: Yes caesura is also what I was thinking of but AFAIK is more of undetermined length rather than brief. And my guess (again :) is that the intent was for a brief separation between the expressions. Thanks for the replies :)

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Maybe look at… – User8773 May 5 '14 at 5:47
Just in case, this is not your work, you may want to know that someone has set this in lilypond.… But I can't see your symbol here. Maybe I took the wrong score. – LaRiFaRi May 5 '14 at 8:45

Maybe the command \divisioMinima shown for Gregorian chant notation would be a hack for you.

enter image description here

I have not checked, if it can be followed by a bar.

Same thing but other notation would be f1 \bar "'" g1 which yields:

enter image description here

However, this both are bar lines which could confuse your lilypond interpreter. If you are not checking the bar length, it should not be a problem.

A last very hackish idea would be, to set a high note, lets say b''4 and to hide its head. This will result in just a line. The command is \hide NoteHead and you can get more inspiration here.

For the meaning of this sign: I don't have any reference and I don't play piano but on vibes or marimba I would have interpreted this as:

Make a break by taking your fingers away from the keys, or by releasing the pedal. Don't get slower but give it a breath. (Just my personal guess)

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I suspect that this is a caesura, which is usually notated in the following way:


A caesura is a brief, unmeasured pause in the flow of the music. Although I am not certain, the fact that it appears in both staves and that it occurs right after a very long phrase and at the end of the measure, makes it seem likely to be a caesura.

The caesura is probably located in a breath or articulation menu in Sibelius 7.

edit: The caesura is located under symbols > common > caesura. A thick caesura is also available.

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I was also thinking of some variation of a breath mark.

Using standard breath mark:**

Breath mark

c2. \breathe d4

Using a tick as the breath mark symbol:

Using a tick as the breath mark symbol

\relative c'' { c2 \override BreathingSign.text = \markup { \musicglyph #"scripts.rvarcomma" } \breathe d2 }

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