Alfred Schnittke's Piano Sonata No.3

What is that tablature symbol in the second bar of Alfred Schnittke's piano sonata no.3 ?

  • 2
    It's not tablature, and Tim's answer is correct.
    – phoog
    Jul 3, 2021 at 8:13
  • As an aside - why would the Bb be more appropriate than A# in the first bar?
    – Tim
    Jul 3, 2021 at 8:39

1 Answer 1


My guess is it's an F♯ note in the bass, which lasts the whole bar - equivalent to four minims - a breve.

Breve translated means short - even though it's the longest duration note in use now. There was a much longer one, 2 or sometimes 3 times as long as the breve, called funnily enough, the longa. Makes me wonder about sustain on notes in days gone by...

  • Is it really a guess?
    – phoog
    Jul 3, 2021 at 8:14
  • Thanks a lot, as I use musescore it's different in design also I know a breve but I never used before, thanks for your answer
    – Sanjai S
    Jul 3, 2021 at 8:18
  • @phoog - at time of writing - yes! Since found it in my 'bible' - can't see it in Dolmetsch though. Very little need for a breve these days, write a slower tempo instead !
    – Tim
    Jul 3, 2021 at 8:21
  • @SanjaiS, Tim: oh, I see. I'd forgotten about the modern form of breve formed by adding vertical lines to the whole note (the form that I found when I searched Dolmetsch online). The form seen here was in use through the 19th century at least, probably to the middle of the 20th. I suppose musescore has a way of using that form if you really want to.
    – phoog
    Jul 3, 2021 at 8:33
  • 1
    @phoog - so only a breve search, then?
    – Tim
    Jul 3, 2021 at 8:52

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