Could someone please assist with an explanation of these wavy lines in the bass with notes moving up to the treble scale? I am not sure how to interpret this information.

Anastasia - P.F. Webster, Alfred Newman

wavy-lines-from-f-piano-score *



  • 2
    Please add what piece/composer these are from.
    – Aaron
    Commented Sep 21, 2022 at 17:46
  • Meter? Clefs? Is the bottom one with triplets and four slur lines a separate piece, another edition, something you notated? Commented Sep 21, 2022 at 21:12
  • A distinction I think none of the answers will cover - the top notation is lightly implied to involve both hands, while the bottom notation is similarly implied to involve the left hand only.
    – Dekkadeci
    Commented Sep 22, 2022 at 4:17
  • More than LIGHTLY implied I think!
    – Laurence
    Commented Sep 22, 2022 at 13:39

2 Answers 2


The first example is 8ths, in 12/8 time (or possibly triplets in 4/4, well enough established for the numbers to be omitted) slurred in six-note groups. The wavy lines are one way of writing a slur that crosses between staves.

The second is triplet 8ths, in 4/4 time, slurred in three-note groups.

The first might have been written like this. Not as pretty?

enter image description here

  • 1
    There's not enough information to presume 12/8 time. It could be 4/4 with the triplets already well established and so not explicitly notated as such. 12/8 feel would be fair, though that would apply to both exceprts.
    – Aaron
    Commented Sep 21, 2022 at 23:30
  • OK, I'll give you that. Though I bet you can't quote an example other than the 'Moonlight'!
    – Laurence
    Commented Sep 22, 2022 at 13:41
  • 3
    Schubert Impromptus in C minor, Eb major, Gb major, and both in Ab major. Chopin Nocturnes Op 15/1, 27/1, 32/2, 48/2, and 72/1. And Moonlight is in cut time, not 4/4. Don't be insulting.
    – Aaron
    Commented Sep 22, 2022 at 14:56

Two different answers.

The top ones are phrase marks, meaning the 6 notes, 3 bass, 3 treble are played as one phrase - in one breath if you like.

The bottom are marks to denote triplets, 3 notes played in the time of 2. The number 3 is a giveaway here, sometimes written in the mark, sometimes over. Here, under.

The top and bottom wavy lines are not related to each other in any way.

  • 1
    On the bottom example I would say the notes also have phrase marks but in groups of 3’s since the triplets are marked on the bottom and triplets are sometimes indicated with simply a number “3”. Commented Sep 21, 2022 at 21:22
  • They're both slurs rather than phrase marks I think. Non-slurred triplets could have a bracket, or have just the number.
    – Laurence
    Commented Sep 21, 2022 at 22:09
  • The bottom ones do not denote triplets; that's what the 3s do. The slurs denote legato and phrasing.
    – Aaron
    Commented Sep 21, 2022 at 23:29
  • Just legato. There COULD be an overall phrase mark as well. But there isn't.
    – Laurence
    Commented Sep 22, 2022 at 13:37
  • 1
    @Tim Of course but I was referring to them being slurred together in groups of 3’s as opposed to groups of 6’s in the first image. I see the phrasing marks over the notes as independent of the “3” numbers on the bottom. Commented Sep 22, 2022 at 16:17

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