I am a piano beginner and am learning by myself. I'm very confused about the upper notes (original sheet), and I rewrite them to become the lower notes (rewrite sheet). My question is that are they correct? original notation with cross-staff beams and rewritten with hands separated

  • I would add to @Aaron's explanation that—as far as I know, not being an expert on typesetting rules—I think many publishers might prefer your rewrite. The point of any typesetting convention is to keep things easy to understand quickly. The cross-staff beaming can help make rhythms easier to recognize, but too much of it can clutter the staff, and if there were more extreme differences in pitch than these examples show, the beams themselves could become difficult to draw. Dec 3, 2021 at 15:08
  • I appreciate your additional advice.
    – Polo Tv
    Dec 3, 2021 at 15:39
  • @AndyBonner - Isn't cross-staff beaming often done with extreme differences in pitch (e.g. Lisztian alternating octaves in both hands)?
    – Dekkadeci
    Dec 4, 2021 at 14:30
  • @Dekkadeci I should have elaborated, but I ran out of characters. I was thinking of how extreme differences simply of physical placement within the staves might make the beam unfeasibly "slanty," e.g. if one of the treble notes is on a high line of the staff and one of the bass notes on a very low line. If that's coupled with also having some low treble and high bass notes within the same beat, then you start getting the beam fighting with noteheads, note stems, and staff lines, and maybe start increasing the spacing between the staves, perhaps to a ludicrous degree. Dec 4, 2021 at 16:14

3 Answers 3


Yes, the rewrite is correct.

The original sheet music is an example of "cross-staff beaming", and its purpose is to help keep visually intact related groups of notes. In this case, the intention is that those note groupings be shared across two hands, and the rewrite shows this.

Sometimes cross-staff beaming can also be used because one hand plays notes high or low enough that many ledger lines would be needed. Instead of that, cross-staff beaming can be used for a single hand just to make the reading easier.


The original notation shows the musical sense AND gives a reasonable suggestion of how to split the notes between the hands.
Your version makes the same suggestion for which hand does what, but removes information about the musical phrasing. It adds nothing, and takes something away. So it's inferior. Don't do that!


This is a separate answer for formatting reasons, please consider this only as remark.

While your rewrite technically matches the original the distributon is not how I’d play it. The original distribution is not easy to play, so I’d suggest something like enter image description here

That is of course not how I’d notate it.

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