In this bar from "Sundown", by Gordon Lightfoot, there is a small note (F): measure from "Sundown"

I'm pretty sure it is not an ossia, since it does not occur at the same time as another note, and it does not look like a grace note tied to the following note.

What is it called? How do I enter it in Guitar Pro 7?

  • What makes you think this is not ossia or an alternative rhythm for another verse of the song? Could you provide more context, is it vocal or instrument line, in which part of the song? It's not an easy task to listen to the whole song in a search of an isolated measure. Oct 25, 2021 at 14:53
  • 3
    I'm guessing this is a way of notating two different verses, one of which has an extra syllable, just as hymnals sometimes put the extra eighth note in parentheses. And since it's such a specialized notational convention and Guitar Pro is, well, Guitar Pro, I'm going to guess it can't be done, but we'll see... Oct 25, 2021 at 15:03
  • @user1079505 I thought it was not an ossia because I expected to see two notes in the same location. I misunderstood the meaning of ossia. I'm just a newbie at musical notation.
    – Ralph
    Oct 25, 2021 at 15:15
  • It's a general bar which shows the timing for words of differing syllables, on a line of a different verse, but the same bar. Very surprised if this hasn't been asked previously!
    – Tim
    Oct 25, 2021 at 15:22
  • @Ralph Nothing wrong in being newbie. I'm suggesting you to clarify your question so that we don't need to guess whether Aaron correctly guessed your intention. Oct 25, 2021 at 16:21

2 Answers 2


It means that in some verses that note is included but not in others. It typically corresponds to lyrics where in some verses a syllable occurs at that rhythmic position, but not in others.

The below example is from Paul Simon's "Nobody" (m. 20).1 The first and third verses have two-syllable words that correspond to an eighth note and a quarter note, respectively; but the second verse has three one-syllable words in the same rhythmic positions, corresponding to three eighth notes. (The time signature is 6/8.)

Paul Simon, "Nobody", m. 20

1 From Paul Simon: Complete Music from 1957–1993 (Amsco Publications, 2000).

  • And I'll still risk $5 on the second part of the question, that there's no way Guitar Pro is going to typeset it. Oct 25, 2021 at 17:45
  • Reminded me of this post, so seems a small note can mean different things? music.stackexchange.com/questions/110419/… Oct 25, 2021 at 19:52
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    @seamurmurs Yes, there can be a variety of meanings, such as in that post.
    – Aaron
    Oct 25, 2021 at 20:18

There are double stems, so there are two voices being notated, one with stems pointing up and one with stems pointing down. It may be that one version is for a different syllable distribution in different stanzas though it would be more common to just write eighths and tie two of them with a dashed tie unless there are also pitch differences.

Where it's rather common to see this kind of notation is in piano/keyboard extracts for musical theatre in which an original bass or melody line for single instruments is made more explicit in that manner, like when you have a bass guitar at your disposal.

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