I have some sheet music for a Hulusi (a Chinese instrument somewhat similar to a recorder), in numbered notation:


Some of the phrases are bracketed, like the "061 | 321" on the fourth line. What does this mean? I've never seen such a "bracket" notation on staff notation music.

2 Answers 2


In conventional notation, bracketed notes can be used for a number of purposes. Often they are used to show passages which are different when a section is repeated. At first, I thought this would most likely be the case here; however, the first use of bracketed notes is for all of the first two lines, which don't appear to be repeated.

Another use for bracketed passages in conventional notation, is to show notes which are not in the main melodic part (backing vocals in a vocal part, for instance). This seems to be the most likely use here, although I don't know this piece, so can't be sure. So, I would imagine that the bracketed notes are not to be played by the main instrument, and are therefore either optional or simply "cue-notes" showing notes heard in another musical part. This would explain the fact that there are both bracketed and unbracketed notes on line 9.

  • 1
    I think the second explanation makes the most sense. I listened to a recording of the piece and it sounds like the Hulusi does not play until the third line.
    – nneonneo
    Dec 26, 2014 at 17:19
  • Yes. That makes sense to me. So, it is just showing another musical part for reference. I'll find an example of this from staff notation and post it later for other readers. Dec 26, 2014 at 17:21

Bob actually has it down here; it's not uncommon for melodic content not played by your instrument to be written in curved brackets as cue notes, when dealing with JianPu notation.

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