I'm no high-end performer so probably won't matter but just curious what is this 'T'?

Second image has some notes of the first page, I supose the little schematic of the structure clarifies the T. Bach - BWV847 Fuga 2 - A 3 voci, bar 7


  • Does "T" appear elsewhere? Are any other letters like that used? Is there no editor comments/introduction explaining? What edition is this? Feb 6, 2023 at 15:35
  • Yes, I also added the notes of the bottom of the page
    – Lyu
    Feb 6, 2023 at 16:29
  • I see. so "T" for "tema", and it seems it doesn't use "C" for "controsoggetto", etc. Feb 6, 2023 at 16:36
  • Edition Breitkopf Nr. 2374. Only T appears but a couple of passages
    – Lyu
    Feb 6, 2023 at 16:37

3 Answers 3


Possibly it denotes this is the main melody ('Theme') of the piece. What piece is it? Is that bit the same as the opening statement?

  • 4
    I can recognise the notes because I have practiced this piece recently. It is Bach fugue number 2 in c minor from the well tempered piano vol 1. And yes this it is the theme, so since it is in fact the theme it is probably why the publisher printed a T. Feb 5, 2023 at 17:41
  • 1
    @Tim it's a keyboard piece. I wouldn't call it a "transcription." The editor has changed the right hand clef from soprano to treble (standard practice in modern editions because nobody learns to read soprano clef these days) and added articulation marks, dynamics, and probably other expression and phrasing ideas, and these will be different for a piano than for a harpsichord, but the composer's explicit purpose is for the piece to be played on any keyboard instrument -- it's just that the modern piano didn't exist when he wrote it.
    – phoog
    Feb 5, 2023 at 18:50
  • 1
    Since it's a fugue, it's a little non-standard to label a "theme". "Subject" is the word I would expect. Feb 5, 2023 at 19:17
  • 1
    @ToddWilcox it might be nonstandard, but more likely it's German.
    – phoog
    Feb 5, 2023 at 19:24
  • 3
    Yes, this marks the theme. It is used in the instructive edition by Bruno Mugellini from 1908 as well as 1952 edition by Pietro Montani. There is also an edition by Alessadro Longo which uses boxed numbers for the theme with the number being the number of the voice.
    – Lazy
    Feb 5, 2023 at 21:34

This is the (first) entry of the third voice, so I expect it is "T for Tenor". (My copy of these fugues is covered with my own pencil S, A, T, B, so it looks rather familiar.) In principle I don't think the voices are named (could arguably be SAB, or even ATB), so it could possibly be T for "Third voice", but that seems very unlikely. If this is a book with all of the P&Fs, look for other similar indications, S, A, T or B.


I'd hazard a guess at 'thumb'. Some older engravings used T, 1, 2, 3, 4 for fingering, rather than the modern 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, where 1 represents thumb. However, there appears '5' in the r.h., 1st and 2nd bars, and there's a suggested 2 under it, for index fingering. So that isn't it. It doesn't appear in any reference I possess, Dolmetsch being the go-to. However I'll leave this answer, as it may help later when fingering (notation) throws up a relevant question. Meanwhile, +1. Talking of which, I remember seeing thumb marked as +.

Maybe this ought to be a comment - powers that be..?

  • 2
    In addition to any other evidence against this guess is the fact that the note in question has a fingering of "2" below the staff.
    – phoog
    Feb 5, 2023 at 18:02
  • @phoog - yes, I already mentioned that as a non-reason!
    – Tim
    Feb 5, 2023 at 18:04
  • Ah, sorry, I didn't read very carefully.
    – phoog
    Feb 5, 2023 at 18:06
  • I have never seen T for "thumb", but in what was called "English fingering" (as opposed to "Continental"), the signs were +1234, so that 1 meant your first finger. Feb 6, 2023 at 15:25

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