I was wondering what this marking means, it looks like an upside-down square fermata or an upside-down down bow marking with a dot. I found it in a piece for cello by Nadia Boulanger.

the image

  • 1
    Related question: Triangle above note, with dot in it
    – Aaron
    Apr 19, 2021 at 20:33
  • 3
    It's not upside down. Marks under a note are supposed to be flipped. Apr 20, 2021 at 0:56
  • @Bennyboy1973 I think "upside-down" in the question is used as a synonym for "flipped", as you put it.
    – LarsH
    Apr 20, 2021 at 13:52
  • Yes, I think so too. Apr 20, 2021 at 13:53
  • Interestingly enough, there are quite a few types of fermatas if you are interested. Fermatas (these are the ones available on Dorico, but the list is there nonetheless) Apr 20, 2021 at 16:11

1 Answer 1


By convention, a square fermata has a longer duration than a rounded fermata.

It's not "upside down". Traditional notation convention usually tries to put the fermata over the note head, rather than the note stem. If the note is stemmed-down, them the fermata goes over the notehead, and the fermata dot will be below the fermata line.

If the note is stemmed-up, the fermata will be below the notehead, and the fermata dot will be above the fermata line.

Fermatas may also be oriented so that it clear to which voice they apply in multi-part writing. For example, in four part vocal music you will find fermatas for the soprano and tenor voices are typically above the staff, and those for the alto and bass voices below the staff, and inverted.

The example you give has only one voice, but the fermata has been placed below the staff so as not to interfere with the trill notation above the note.

  • Weird, I typically see final pause signs above the upper staff and below the lower staff in piano sheet music in books, regardless of what direction stems are/would be pointing and regardless of what Musescore thinks.
    – Dekkadeci
    Apr 20, 2021 at 11:55
  • There's also a ^ or v shaped fermata, which is shorter than the round one but still longer than the base value of the note. Specifically, the triangle, round, and square fermatas are meant to be 1.25, 1.5, and 1.75 times the length of the note, respectively. Both the triangle and square ones were never all that widely used, but still show up occasionally. Apr 20, 2021 at 14:35
  • Perhaps "put the fermata opposite the note head"? Apr 20, 2021 at 14:53

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