Which hands do I use to play the notes/dyads I've labeled #3, #5, and #6?

I recall reading somewhere that lower case "d" indicates "right hand" and lower case "g" indicates "left hand" in French translation.

I'm also curious how to interpret the cross-staff notation for note #3.

This screenshot is from the piece "Bamboula" by Louis Moreau Gottschalk. Here's a link to the sheet music I'm using: https://imslp.org/wiki/Special:ImagefromIndex/378026/hfpn

enter image description here

  • 2
    d = droit (right), g = gauche (left).
    – Tim
    Commented Apr 25 at 6:29

1 Answer 1


Gottschalk is attempting to do two things here:

  1. Have the left hand maintain a steady eighth-note pulse, which provides the rhythmic foundation for the piece.
  2. Make the piece look visually impressive to perform by having the left hand leaping around the keyboard and sometimes playing melody notes rather than the right hand.

To that end, the notes labeled 3 and 5 in the question are both left-hand notes, and the notes at 6 are played by right (upper note) and left (lower note). This pattern occurs throughout much of the piece.

The reason for the cross-staff stems on note 3 is to make clear that while the left hand will play the note, it is part of the overall sixteenth-note pattern initiated by the right hand.

Similarly, at "5", the double stems show the two voices, how they fit rhythmically as "pulsed-by-the-left-hand" moments, and two help clarify that the left hand should play the melody's "G" (along with the accompanying voice's "E").

Arguably, one could play the pictured part without the handedness trickery, sacrificing flash but maintaining musical intention. But, I think the musical goals are more effectively (or, at least, more easily) maintained by using Gottschalk's approach — by making the eighth-note stresses more clear.

Below are pictured the same measures from the Schott edition (also on IMSLP).


  • 2
    Additionally, using the LH for note 3 helps with the quick repetition of the A. But the letter g at note 5 probably belongs to the note E and not the note G - observe how it is the same position relative to the E as the later g is to the note A. The closeness of the letter g to the note G probably comes from the typesetting. It makes sense to play the G with the RH as it is part of the melody, and the melody is more coherent if played with one hand.
    – Peter
    Commented Apr 25 at 1:19
  • 1
    @Peter I considered that, but felt that the rhythmic pulses were the larger goal, including in the melody. There's no evident reason to place the "g" next to the G rather than the E, especially since that would be implied by the beaming. It comes back to the core issue of music intent, "flashiness" intent, and overall effective playing. The downstem being attached to the G is another hint, but I'm also a bit surprised there isn't an accent of some kind there as well.
    – Aaron
    Commented Apr 25 at 1:25
  • 1
    And using the LH on the E at 5 makes the repeated E easier there as well.
    – Peter
    Commented Apr 25 at 1:48

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