On piano, when playing a long note followed by an overlapping shorter note or vice versa, what is this called? I know this is an extremely common thing in piano music, but I don't know what it's called in music theory. Also, does anyone know how to do this in finale notepad?

score excerpt: dotted-quarter, eighth, quarter written above dotted half

  • 1
    Two part writing/playing?
    – Tim
    Jun 4, 2021 at 15:35
  • What is the overlap? Do you mean the dotted quarter, eighth, quarter is "overlapping" the dotted half note? Jun 4, 2021 at 16:24
  • Are you asking about the rhythm or about the multiple "layers of melody" played at the same time in different octaves?
    – Johannes
    Jun 4, 2021 at 23:23

1 Answer 1


They are called voices, and according to the Finale web site, Finale Notepad has a "layer" system for writing multiple voices.


Here's an example picture from some other answer multiple voices

The red circle highlights how notes overlap.

  • 1
    Genuinely surprised this hasn't been asked before. But several searches turned up nothing. Good, concise answer.
    – Aaron
    Jun 4, 2021 at 15:49
  • @Natia Welcome to Music.SE! If this answer did in fact answer your question sufficiently, I invite you to click the checkmark next to the answer to accept it. Of course, feel free to wait a bit for other answers to come in.
    – Richard
    Jun 4, 2021 at 18:27

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