I came across this line of sheet music, and I've never seen these hollow "x" shaped noteheads before.unknown song I found it in this search engine, and the title or lyric seems to be in Chinese. I wasn't able to playback the MIDI example since it requires the now out-of-use adobe flash. I would love to know what instrument this type of notation is intended for and what these x shapes indicate.

I've tried google searches, both ones describing the notehead shape and also copypasting the Chinese characters. But since I don't know any Chinese whatsoever I wasn't able to figure out whether any results had anything to do with this piece of music.

I suspect they aren't rhythm notation, since they show different notes.

Since this is my very first post here, I hope I have provided the right amount of information; otherwise please let me know.

EDIT: I have now, thanks to a suggestion from user Laurence Payne, downloaded and listened to the MID file and it doesn't sound like an actual piece of real music. The note heads were changed to common ones in my software, but the melody itself sounded strange enough to suspect it is simply some test music written down. This, in addition to several notation errors pointed out by users, makes me think that an exact answer might not exist. I thought these were some type of notation with a fixed meaning, but it seems that may not be the case. But if someone happens to know differently, I'm curious of course.

I have been sent this question as a suggestion for a possible answer. The reason I haven't acknowledged it, is due to the answers there consisting of guesses rather than certain answers.

  • 1
    Does this answer your question? What are the non-standard note heads (triangle, cross) in this piano sheet?
    – PiedPiper
    Jan 8, 2021 at 10:40
  • 4
    There are at least three notation errors in this excerpt. The cross noteheads are probably the fourth.
    – PiedPiper
    Jan 8, 2021 at 10:43
  • @PiedPiper Thanks, yes but only partially since I believe those answers only provide suggestions without certainty. I didn't find this particular post while searching myself, though! So thank you. Oh, and yeah I can see now that the second bar contains one too many beats. What other errors did you find? I can't figure them out?
    – Catcus
    Jan 8, 2021 at 11:16
  • The last bar has too few beats and the slur is wrong. I think this is just random stuff that someone's entered rather than a real piece of music.
    – PiedPiper
    Jan 8, 2021 at 11:30
  • 1
    You can download and play the MID file easily enough using e.g. Windows Media Player. But it won't help you much. You'll just hear all the notes played normally with a piano sound.
    – Laurence
    Jan 8, 2021 at 12:43

2 Answers 2


It looks like minim ghost notes: the fact it is hollow shows that they should last two beats each, in agreement with the time signature though…

The way it would be played would unfortunately depends on the instrument, so hard to know for sure what was the intention of the author… Maybe someone else will have more idea!

  • 2
    By minim, do you refer to what is also called a half note? I'm not a native speaker. If so, that could very much make sense! I have never seen ghost notes in the length similar to a half note before, so I didn't even think of that.
    – Catcus
    Jan 8, 2021 at 11:22
  • 2
    @Catcus yes, I'm not a native either, so minim, or blanche or half note, two beats ;)
    – Tom
    Jan 8, 2021 at 11:29
  • @Tom as far as I recall the minim version of a ghost note is a hollow diamond shape, but I don't see that in the Unicode musical symbols block, so maybe I remember incorrectly, or maybe the practice has changed in recent decades. But since these notes are pitched I suspect that they mean something different.
    – phoog
    Jan 8, 2021 at 20:49
  • 1
    @phoog I think there is not much of a meaning to look for in this excerpt actually...
    – Tom
    Jan 8, 2021 at 20:59

That site Musipedia uses notation code based on LilyPond.

The documentation pages for note head style are...



They explain the cross note head...

The cross style is used to represent a variety of musical intentions. The following generic predefined commands modify the note head in both staff and tablature contexts and can be used to represent any musical meaning:...

I can't read Chinese either but the attribution link on the example melody page goes to the editor/member's page..


...this fragment is the only thing they added.

I wouldn't read any particular meaning into the cross note head. It has no fixed meaning and the example looks like an incomplete fragment. Cross note heads can be used for ghost notes, percussion, etc. A ghost note is very unlikely. Two consecutive ghost half notes?!? My guess is they were just trying out the editor software and different note heads.

  • I agree that this excerpt seems to have very little musical "interest" and might just be a test... As @piedpiper mentioned there are several mistakes in there, which goes the same way!
    – Tom
    Jan 8, 2021 at 18:06

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