In this extract of Ave Maria, from Schubert, adapted for Piano,

Should the blue marked right hand note played after, before, or simultaneously to the left hand blue marked note ?

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2 Answers 2


By splitting that particular beat into its component parts, it makes more sense. Take the treble notes - split them into 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8, and the B♮ falls on 4.

Take the tuplet of 6 in the bass clef, and count - 1-2-3-4-5-6, each count slightly slower. A+C comes on count 3.

Given that the following C+F play with the treble C, the B♮ is played after the l.h. A+C.


There will be violent disagreement but here goes:

The bass figures are notated as sextuplets, so you get 6 to the quarter note. Mathematically they are evenly distributed but the execution will likely reserve a bit more space for the first of six because it has low (and apparently pedaled) notes. Mathematically, there are 8 32nd notes to the 6 16th sextuplets so the last 16th sextuplet would come before the last 32nd but ... Forget about mathematics.

The notes are not in an actual relation with one another. The left hand fills a time space with a pattern, the right hand fills a time space with a pattern. The on-beat synchronisation is sort of relevant since it is the pulse of the music. If you execute a dotted rhythm rigidly, it ends up as a 3-1 partitioning of the space, but the character of the dotted rhythm does not really depend on the exact partitioning. It is much more important to articulate the right hand self-consistently and melodically rather than exactly synchronised to the left hand.

The choice of syncopation could well bring the 32nd notes closer or farther away from the close sextuplet note than the strict mathematics of it would suggest, and that may even change between the instances of the patterns.

This is one case where there may be a good point in practising left and right hand independently for a while before joining them, so avoid ending up with that kind of bean-counting adjustment that is prone to derailing the self-consistency of the separate hands.

So I'd say "the blue marked right hand note should not be played after, before, or simultaneously to the left hand blue marked note but independently of it". In a rigid meter, it will then end up before it but that is sort of incidental, not because of consciously placing it there.

  • 2
    I certainly do not think there should be 'violent' disagreement, if any at all. Your answer captures the important point that the hands must be independent, and you have to be "feeling" both the LH and RH patterns independently. So it really does not matter what the mathematics says. Commented May 1, 2022 at 17:11
  • Schubert sometimes used the baroque style of dot which just meant 'longer' and expected the performer to adjust accordingly. There have been many disagreements by high-level performers about this. 'Wasserflut' from 'Winterreise' is a famous case where Schubert writes a dotted quaver + semiquaver for the piano left hand below triplet quavers in the right hand. His manuscript and the first edition align the last notes, many modern editions don't (possibly because their software won't allow it!). Do what sounds good to you and disregard the 'experts'.
    – Peter
    Commented May 8, 2022 at 14:17

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