Theory question. Looking at Villa-Lobos's Prelude no. 2 bar 9, there seems to be too many notes. The time signature is 2/4. See attached highlighted in yellow. What am I missing? Thanks

enter image description here


2 Answers 2


"Lazy" notation like this is very common in solo works. To be theoretically correct, there should be some sort of tuplet to squeeze the notes into the available space. In this case, that would mean making the notes one duration shorter and writing a 19:16 tuplet.

However, that would make it seem as if the composer intended that precise rhythmic figure, plus it would be a lot of visual clutter. This run is intended to be taken freely, and notating it as is communicates that. Sometimes you'll see composers opt for small notes, like grace notes, but this can imply that the notes should be played very quickly.

In short, experienced musicians can read the intent and don't get hung up in the accounting.


The E major chord is played for one beat, then the rest of the bar is played on the second beat. Naturally, that second beat must be counted much more slowly than the first beat.

Here, in my opinion, is a great performance:

  • 'Counted much more slowly' - needs re-phrasing!
    – Tim
    Commented Sep 23, 2020 at 13:57
  • How about rubato? Zeit lassen?
    – MMazzon
    Commented Sep 23, 2020 at 21:40

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