I just start playing Schumann's Traumerei, but I noticed something unusual:

See the F on the bass staff

in a 4/4 meter, the F on the bass staff counts for 5 beats in the same bar.

My guess: press down the sustain pedal, play F for one beat, and again for the remaining three beats?

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    Does this answer your question? Too many notes in this measure Jun 22, 2022 at 11:22
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    Does this answer your question? What is this double-note and how do you play it?
    – Aaron
    Jun 22, 2022 at 13:12
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    An interesting example of what, at first sight, might seem a frequently-asked (and answered) question, with two instances of 'orchestral' piano writing - the doubled bass note and the interlocked inner parts. It would be a pity to dismiss it as a mere duplicate.
    – Laurence
    Jun 22, 2022 at 13:13

5 Answers 5


When writing for piano, composers very often notate a musical intention rather than precise playing instructions. We're being told that Schumann feels there are four musical 'voices' here, and had he been scoring for four actual individual instruments he might have done this.

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A pianist will actually play this. Does being made aware of Schumann's concept make any audible difference? Maybe, just a little!

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You'll also notice that Schumann dovetails the inner notes, asking the r and l hands to overlap. This would be worth doing if there WERE different instruments playing each layer of the music. Whether it makes a jot of difference on piano is debatable.

But I quite like that Schumann thought orchestrally, even in his piano solo music.

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(I see I've misprinted the pickup note. Should be a C. Sorry.)

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    All good points, Laurence. I would add that there's something to be said for making the performer think. Even if all you think is, 'I wonder why he did that?' it affects your attitude to a piece and changes the way you play. It stops you playing on automatic pilot. That 4-note chord, fingered as written, feels fuller, fatter and more stable than it does in your last rewrite. A 5th and a maj6th are more stable than a 4th and a min3rd.And it feels warmer because your hands are touching for a second or two: almost clasped. Jun 22, 2022 at 16:31
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    This dovetailing is actually quite typical for Schumanns piano writing!
    – Lazy
    Jun 22, 2022 at 19:21
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    Just a nitpick; your treble pick-up note changed from a C to an F in the second and third scorings.
    – shoover
    Jun 22, 2022 at 21:39
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    Did you mean F₁ or F₂ for the contrabass part? Your argument makes more sense when it's F₂, however that would normally be written on the second line, unlike in the cello part. (Double bass clef being really 8vb bass clef, or as many people prefer to say, double bass “transposing” down an octave.) Jun 22, 2022 at 22:48

I want to add to Laurence Payne's already good answer. Not only are there clearly four voices in this piece, they have clear and distinct characters. The second voice is syncopated, which is why there is a rest in the first bar before it starts. But the third voice is not! Instead, it starts with the tonic note F together with the fourth voice.

Some people have suggested that this makes no difference in playing. This is just wrong. Schumann wants the pianist to play as if there are really four voices. This would mean that the shared F should be louder than if it was only in the fourth voice. Furthermore, precisely because that F in the third voice precedes the C-A chord in the second beat, the C-A chord should be felt and played as if it serves as a 'follow-up' to the F.

How to tell that this F is a shared note? (It does not seem to have been explicitly explained so far.) A note shared by multiple voices is notated either by putting the copies right next to each other with no space in-between, or by having two stems if they both have stems and the note heads are identical. Clearly, the second option is inapplicable for the shared F in Traumerei.


No. This is notation of two voices in one hand, both of which start on the f. So you have one voice that plays the f and then the c,a, and another voice that just remains on the f. Maybe also put a little emphasis on the f.


This could have been better written with a rest in the tenor part. There's really no point in writing that F twice - it's confusing to a lot of folk - hence the question.

It certainly doesn't make 5 beats in the bar, nor get played twice, so is superfluous.

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    I do not think so. We need to take into account that this is a particularly bad looking edition, that starts the crescendo at a completely wrong point and and adds a ben espressivo in between , which totally messes up the spacing. Needless to say, Schumann did not put a ben espressivo there.
    – Lazy
    Jun 22, 2022 at 19:39

It's sort of a bit of semantic information. You play the attack of the F to fit nicely with the following C-A, but you don't release the note (either by holding with the finger or employing a suitable pedal for that purpose).

That is hard to convey without writing the quarter note since then the timing suggests the F to be independent from the C-A and more played like a bass harmony note doubling the F in the violin clef rather than forming a melodic attack of its own.

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