I want to hold down the A key on the piano for 3 beats. During the first of these 3 beats ONLY the A key is held, but during the second and third beats, I press the C and E keys staccato on the beat.

Effectively I want a sound like this:

two-handed version of bass note with two chords

However, I only want this sound to take place in the bass clef and be played with the left hand. Meanwhile the right hand is playing a melody.

I've tried finding an answer to this but most answers involve slurring the entire chord, where you press and hold the A, then press and hold the C, then press and hold the E. They don't offer a way to lift your fingers from C and E without lifting your finger from A.

What's the proper notation for what I'm trying to accomplish? I'm trying to take a small piece I prototyped on a piano and jot it down with some notation software, but nothing seems capable of producing the sound I want. Whenever I declare that the first note of the chord is a dotted half-note, I'm forbidden from placing additional notes in the measure (understandably - the measure already has 3 full beats)

  • 2
    If you want staccato, better put a dot under each dyad.
    – Tim
    Jun 1, 2020 at 6:33

4 Answers 4


OI vopiSeveral posts down, there is an example of correct notation.

enter image description here

I copied it from that post. One notates the sound as two voices (thus the quarter rest) with a dotted half in one voice and a quarter rest and two quarter notes in the other voice. It's a common notation when the keyboard plays more than one voice in each hand.


This is where using more than one voice comes into play.Split the bass clef into two voices one with stems pointing downwards, the others pointing upwards.

It's a common thing to do, when effectively there are two separate things happening simultaneously. So the A note underneath will be for three beats, and its stem facing down, and there's a rest above it for the 1st beat. Then come the two crotchets, with their staccato dots, on beats 2 and 3, and their stems up.

We have a lot of questions about 'how come there's 6 beats in a 3/4 bar', etc., and this is usually why!


Regarding the question about notation software:

This requires a program that allows for multiple voices. Enter the dotted half-note in one voice, then enter the quarter-rest and two staccato chords as a second voice. The software will understand that the two voices are happening simultaneously and format them as desired.

For example, here are instructions for doing this in MuseScore.


I believe it would look like Image 2 below that I've created.

I use Dorico Software, and to create this I plotted the A note and C/E dyads as quarter notes (Image 1). After this I went into 'Play Mode', turned on 'Notated Durations' and dragged the A note across the the 2 staccato A/C diads to give me image 2 below.

Hope this helps.

Image 1

Image 2

  • 5
    it really should we written as two distinct voices Mar 28, 2022 at 19:24

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