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How do you play a tremolo attached to a stack of notes on a piano? (Is that the right wording?) I put an example below.

enter image description here

I've seen this sort of pattern several times in piano arrangements of popular music. Does it mean that I should repeat 32nd notes for the duration of a half-note (minim) as in the image below? That seems unreasonably fast to me.

enter image description here

Should I break it up like this?

enter image description here

Any help would be appreciated.

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  • Related question: Proper chord tremolo notation and execution. Particularly relevant is the comment by Dekkadeci on the answer: "Wouldn't any chord with tremolo bars through the stem be treated as a solid chord with no alternation (but with the tremolo still applied)? That's how Musescore treats it, at least."
    – Aaron
    Jul 31 at 16:36
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Strictly speaking, Musescore will play back the first image like the second image - 32nd-note octaves. Pretty unreasonable, but the first image's music is arguably written incorrectly.

If those composers meant you to play the third image, they should have written 2 half-note G's an octave apart with 32nd-note beams in between them for the tremolo.

Punish those music writers for their mistake - be stuck attempting the octaves. From what I recall from seeing copyists' versions of early 20th-century piano music, they wrote their tremolos correctly for the most part with the two notes with tremolo beams in between instead of what you got in your first image. Whoever wrote your first image was sloppy and will get their music played incorrectly or with much difficulty.

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The top idea is pretty impractical, so the bottom one is the way to play this tremolo. It doesn't have to be exactly that number of notes - who's counting?! As long as you fill the two counts, and arrive at the next bar in time, that's fine.

Another way to write out tremolo would be to use two minims here, one top, one bottom G, and put the tremolo marks between them. That then looks like there are too many beats in the bar.

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