When a measure doesn't have any chord notation above it, but its preceding measure has a chord notation, should I keep the keys of the previous measure chord pressed when playing the measure which has no chord notation?

e.g. on the attached notation, the 2nd measure marked in red has no chord above it - should I play this measure only with my right hand and the left hand doesn't press any key at that time or the left hand keeps pressing the keys of the C chord until reaching the 3rd measure which has the F chord?

enter image description here

  • 2
    Chord names are not limited to piano, I'm inclined to remove that tag.
    – guidot
    Commented Feb 8, 2023 at 14:17
  • 1
    THIS question is about how to realise chord symbols on a keyboard.
    – Laurence
    Commented Feb 9, 2023 at 12:53

2 Answers 2


Yes, in chord symbol notation the convention is that a chord persists until the next one is stated.

If it's specifically required to not have harmony under a particular section, 'N.C.' (for No Chord) can be written.

It doesn't, however, tell you to simply hold a chord down. It tells you what the harmony is. Then it's your job to make something of it! Here's a few possibilities, starting from the most simplistic, then getting a bit more interesting. All are 'correct', given that melody and chords. There could be many more. enter image description here

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    (And in case it's not obvious from the last section, the accompaniment isn't restricted to the left hand; as long as the tune comes out strongly, you can use whatever arrangement you like!)
    – gidds
    Commented Feb 8, 2023 at 14:54

Yes, if there's no change, there's no change in what you should play in the following bars. Until told differently. It's like that to stop things getting too bogged down or crowded. No change means exactly that.

Simplest answer is to try the options, and it should become apparent that playing nothing doesn't work well, while playing the same chord as previous does work well.

  • Thank you, so does it mean I just keep the keys of C chord pressed on the 2nd measure or release them for a very short period between 1st and 2nd measure and then re-press the C chord keys on the 2nd measure?
    – BornToCode
    Commented Feb 7, 2023 at 0:19
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    @BornToCode this isn't specified in the score. You can play the C chord only once for both measures, you can play it once at the beginning of each measure, or you can use some different rhythm pattern. Commented Feb 7, 2023 at 1:05
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    @BornToCode you can even play the given chord 9 times in each measure (I'm thinking of 1950s doo-wop style pop music, though maybe a 2-measure pattern of quarter, eighth, eighth, quarter / quarter, quarter, quarter would be more stylistic). The chord symbol C does not mean "play a C chord" so much as it means "the current harmony is C, so play something appropriate." A bass player reading that might just play a single C, or might play an arpeggio C-E-G, or might do any of a number of other things. A rhythm guitar player would typically strum repeatedly. Etc, etc.
    – phoog
    Commented Feb 7, 2023 at 10:40
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    @BornToCode - either, but the 2nd option would sound better. The answer is exactly with you, and what you think sounds better. There's no hard and fast rule to follow.
    – Tim
    Commented Feb 7, 2023 at 14:53
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    @BornToCode: What's important is to think of the chord symbols as hints to help you find something that will sound good with your style of playing, rather than as something that must be played precisely as written. When multiple people are playing chords, they need to be consistent with each other, but if you're the only person accompanying the melody you should feel free to go with whatever you and the person on the melody think sounds good.
    – supercat
    Commented Feb 7, 2023 at 15:48

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