I have a book which has the lyrics and guitar chords for some songs. It shows the tab at the top of the page for each chord and each chord letter to be played above the lyrics. This seems simple enough, but in one of the songs it shows to play E with a symbol above it that I have never seen before. What does this mean?

An E major chord symbol, with a dot & arc symbol above it.

  • 1
    You can find a good example in Beethoven's 5th symphony: i.stack.imgur.com/vSklY.png .
    – Kartik
    Jul 30, 2014 at 10:44
  • 1
    Also, it's good to add that there isn't any specific duration that one should hold this note. It depends on the conductor or the performer(s) to hold the note for as long as they want. May 25, 2015 at 17:43

2 Answers 2


It's called a fermata. It means hold the chord for good long moment. If there are other instruments playing, they will all stop and hold the note together. The whole movement of time in the song takes a pause, just stretching out the single beat.

  • 1
    "Fermata" is Italian for "stop".
    – user1044
    May 25, 2015 at 19:04

Common name is a pause sign. In 'proper' music (written notes), it means hold the note for longer than the note indicates, as in a four beat note may be held for 5/6 beats. Usually found at the end of a piece, where the last chord lasts longer than it is marked, signifying 'the end'. Not usually found in the middle of a piece.

  • This was actually in the middle of a song
    – Phil_12d3
    Jul 30, 2014 at 8:25
  • What song is it?
    – Tim
    Jul 30, 2014 at 8:45
  • I've actually forgot the name of the song I originally asked the question about (I only saw it at a glance and skipped over it straight away because of the unknown symbol), but in the same book there is California Dreamin' with an F# and fermata in the intro. I'll have another look and try to find the other song though.
    – Phil_12d3
    Jul 31, 2014 at 7:34
  • Yup, there's a fermata in the intro of "California Dreamin'." Aug 3, 2014 at 7:13

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