In this Henle edition of BWV817 there are slashes between the notes of the chords in bars 1, 2, 3. What does this signify? I don't think I've seen this symbol anywhere else in the book. The editorial notes don't comment on bars 2, 3 at all.

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  • 1
    I've been playing classical piano music since I was a kid, have played thousands of piano pieces, and I've never seen these sorts of lines in piano music to indicate separation of voices or otherwise. Haven't used Henle that much though. In any case, no idea what's going on.
    – cruthers
    Commented Apr 23, 2023 at 21:00
  • Try harpsichord music! Commented May 25, 2023 at 20:17

2 Answers 2


They're intended as visual aids to clarify the voices.

  • In m. 1, it's a clarification that the top voice is dotted while the lower voice is not.
  • In m. 2, it's to make clear there are three voices, with the lowest voice having originated in the bass staff.
  • M. 3 has the lines for the same reason as m. 1.

There is another possibility. They may have been guide lines for the engraver that were mistakenly included in the engraving.


This is a slur.

As explained in the foreword to Henry Purcell: Suites, Lessons and Pieces for the Harpsichord (J&W Chester, London, 1919):

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and that is indeed how it's played.

  • 2
    These marks don't seem to be in any of the sources, however.
    – phoog
    Commented May 25, 2023 at 20:37
  • 2
    Interesting. It does explain Schiff's performance, though not Gould's or Landowska's, and Schiff plays it differently in another recording. I've not encountered the marking in Bach before; I wonder where else it might show up in his keyboard music.
    – Aaron
    Commented May 25, 2023 at 21:13

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