Throughout the score there are various CX, CVII signs and the alla breve sign (which is obviously not Alla Breve). From what I could gather, these are fingering instructions for the pinky (C), but I couldn't find a full explanation.

enter image description here

The source can be found here:

What are these and how do I read them?

  • That 1st sign looks exactly like a cut 4/4 sign. Maybe the printers didn't have a better one?
    – Tim
    May 2 at 16:48
  • @Tim you mean a 2/2 sign? This is otherwise known as alla breve, as noted in the question.
    – phoog
    May 3 at 10:54
  • @phoog - C is another way to write 4/4. Cut C - cut 4/4. Yes, alla breve or 2/2.
    – Tim
    May 3 at 11:18

3 Answers 3


They're fret numbers. Sometimes they refer to that fret barred, sometimes (as in the sign lke cut time) they refer to a part barre. The lowest notes are usually best left played as open, although here, CV refers to fret 5, so the low A could be played on 6th string, fret 5 - BUT - since it's a half barre, it indicates play it open. The D, on the other hand (sic) might be better played fretted at 10, as indicated, making the staccato easier to perform.


The C with a slash through means a half-barre of some sort 2 - 5 strings as the harmony dictates.

The straight C probably indicates a full barre but the notation is awkward.

The position is indicated with Roman Numerals as is the tradition.

I - One

II - Two

III - Three

IV - Four

V - Five

VI - Six

VII - Seven

VIII - Eight

IV - Nine

X - Ten

XI - Eleven

XII - Twelve.


These are fret numbers, as @Tim already said, but they do not necessarily indicate full or partial barré. They indicate position. This sometimes does mean a barré, sometimes it indicates just the playing position on the fretboard.

PS: as requested in the comment: the position is indicated by a "C" followed by a roman numeral, i.e. "CIV" for fourth position or "CVII" for seventh position. It indicates the "root fret" for the hand position on the fretboard, which sometimes means to play a full or partial barré, sometimes it just indicates the finger position.

For instance: playing a am7 chord as A-x-g-c'-e'-x (5th fret, A-string and e-string muted)) would also be 5th position without any barré involved.

  • Could you be more explicit about what symbol means what position?
    – Aaron
    May 3 at 13:50

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.