Hymn scoreFirst time I ever ran into this. It's from a church song book printed in Hungary. In this example there are 4 of these dashed arrows: two seem to point to notes, the other two don't. What are they indicating?score close-up

  • Is that the bass and treble stave for a same part?
    – Tom
    Oct 27, 2020 at 20:45
  • Could you post longer fragment of the score? Are there measures and time signature? Perhaps there is a recording of the song as well? Oct 27, 2020 at 20:47
  • Could be that there is a repeat and the second time should be played with these notes one beat before?
    – Tom
    Oct 27, 2020 at 20:48
  • Sure, I will post a larger in a couple of minutes
    – user72725
    Oct 27, 2020 at 20:56
  • I added a larger image, not every song in the book has these but several do. None of the music has any time signatures which is surprising. There are very few recordings, it seems I'm breaking new ground recording these to youtube. It's a book called Eneklo Egyhaz published in Budapest Hungary
    – user72725
    Oct 27, 2020 at 21:03

2 Answers 2


It appears to indicate an alteration to the accompaniment on the second verse.

In the below recording of the hymn, the organist plays as written for the first verse, but places the chord according to the back-pointing arrow for the second.

There is also a recording on this website collecting Hungarian liturgical music that follows the same practice. (Sounds like the same one as above.)

  • Was not so far from the truth! Well done finding a recording!
    – Tom
    Oct 27, 2020 at 21:43
  • Good job! I wonder what is the reason? Could it be matching the natural accents of the language? Oct 29, 2020 at 5:49
  • @user1079505 I think the natural accents are part of it. I'd like to find an earlier version of the hymn, because my suspicion is that the "original" hymn put the accompaniment as it is placed in the OP, and the editor of the later edition placed the back-arrows to show the intended placement on the repetition.
    – Aaron
    Oct 29, 2020 at 8:03

With your added picture, it seems that the second time you play it, you should play these notes where the arrow points, so, half a beat sooner. It could also be indicating a possible variation that you choose to do, it not.

  • That makes a lot of sense Tom, you could be onto something there! I just have never seen this before, nor music like this with no time signature, I guess the performer assumes it's 4/4
    – user72725
    Oct 27, 2020 at 21:08
  • @user72725 The notation is actually kind of lossy if you count the beats… Even silences are not written, but that would allow this kind of notation! Maybe it is played with the advanced notes one out of two…
    – Tom
    Oct 27, 2020 at 21:15
  • This is not in 4/4 - it's unmetered. This is clearly chant of some sort - originally chant was simply sung with roughly equal time for each syllable, with longer pauses at the end of sentences or phrases. As much of what is chanted is prose and not poetry, phrases are of irregular length. There is no meter. Oct 27, 2020 at 21:39
  • @AlexanderWoo I agree, I agree, it goes in the way of my answer actually, I was just comment the OP's comment.
    – Tom
    Oct 27, 2020 at 21:43

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