See the picture from the guitar composition:

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What does the apostrophe mean and how does it affect playing ?

2 Answers 2


Nothing specifically to do with guitar technique. It's a general musical instruction. Breath mark. Caesura. A brief time-out from the flow as if you were a singer taking a breath. It DOESN'T imply a fermata on the note before it though.


Its more usual use is to indicate where a breath may be taken. Maybe for guitarists short of breath..! Probably a vestige from another transcription of the piece played on a wind instrument. Now more an indication of the end of one phrase, and the beginning of the next, possibly cutting that last crotchet a little bit in length, which is what would happen when played on a wind instrument.

  • 5
    I've seen this for non wind instruments, it's always about "breathing" anyway, even if it's not a requirement of the instrument: you don't need to actually take a breath, but the musical effect should be like you are taking it. And, even for non wind instruments, it's good practice to actually take that breath anyway, as it really helps musicality. Apr 27, 2021 at 12:21

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