I'm a beginner piano player and came across the following notation in a booklet:

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in a beginner's arrangement for Fauré's "Sicilienne". My question is regarding the bow on the bottom staff.

I'm pretty sure that that is not a slur but is intended to be a tie. This is because the bottom staff is noted with "sempre legato" at the beginning of the piece and there are no other slurs in the whole bottom staff apart from three examples of the above. My assumption is that this is an editorial mistake, and either the flat or the natural should not be there, or be in parenthesis as an alternative.

It is worth the note that the piece is in G Minor, thus the E's would be flat by default.

Is my assumption correct that this is a mistake in the sheet music and this is a tie over E♭ on the bottom staff?


3 Answers 3


It's a slur, not an error in your score.

Here is the measure you're asking about, in the original score (IMSLP, Hamelle edition, PDF page 5, first measure):

Fauré, "Sicilienne", m. 62

What your edition has done is rearrange the chords so that the Eb from the first chord in the right hand gets moved to your left hand.

  • Thank you for the elaborate answer! Next time I have a question, I'll make sure to include the measure number (even for arrangements). I really was confused because of the "sempre legato" at the beginning of the score, because my edition really doesn't include any slurs on the bottom staff apart from the one I posted. This means the bow does not carry extra information, it just reinforces the "legato everywhere" already present, correct?
    – D. Kovács
    Aug 14, 2020 at 6:59
  • 2
    @D.Kovács Yes, my take on it is the same as yours: reinforcement of the legato.
    – Aaron
    Aug 14, 2020 at 7:08
  • Which agrees with the markings in my cello part Aug 14, 2020 at 17:44

It can't be a tie. Ties essentially elongate particular notes - usually because there isn't an appropriate note shape to show that length of note, and for other non-pertinent reasons here.

So, those lines must be slurs, which is exactly in line with 'legato', which means smoothly. One chord will blend into the other, as smoothly as possible. But no ties - none of the notes are the same.


Others have noted that the markings are slurs, not ties, but failed to mention a visual distinction. Although ties and slurs look similar, and although some layout artists treat them interchangeably, a properly-drawn tie should sit horizontally entirely between the notes being connected, while a properly-drawn slur should extend horizontally to reach a point above or below the notes being connected.

  • Good point, I personally like to see ties practically connected to the end of the first note and the beginning of the second note. With slurs I like to have a larger gap between the slur and the note head either above or below the note so they look very different from each other. Aug 14, 2020 at 17:50
  • 1
    Do standard score-writing packages (e.g. Lilypond) make the distinction in that way?
    – gidds
    Aug 14, 2020 at 19:24
  • 2
    In practice though, I very rarely see this distinction done, or if there is any difference it's too small to be noticeable. The only surefire way to know it's a tie and not a slur is if they're both the same note, which in this case they explicitly are not. Aug 14, 2020 at 19:42
  • 1
    That would be nice, but rather subtle when sight-reading. A far better guide is - are they the same notes (tie),or different (slur)?
    – Tim
    Aug 15, 2020 at 5:52
  • @Tim: If a note before a cross-bar-line tie has an accidental, it will apply to the portion of the note after the bar-line, and must generally not be repeated (though a courtesy accidental may be appropriate for e.g. a tie that crosses a page boundary). If a slur connects two notes on the same line or space, however, and the first has an accidental but the second does not, then the second note should revert to the key signature.
    – supercat
    Aug 15, 2020 at 6:30

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