I am playing a piece for the guitar on the piano and everything sounds fine until I reach the last few notes in the score: all the notes marked with a '19' above the staff and represented with diamonds appear to be in a different key. Anyone knows what's happening here?

Also, what does the p i a m i p m i mean for the notes that are preceding?


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1 Answer 1


p-i-m-a indicate which finger to pluck with (thumb, index, middle and ring, the letters come from the Spanish names), and thus are guitar specific. Similarly the small numbers to the left of the noteheads indicate which left hand finger to use to fret that note.

The diamond shaped notes are natural harmonics. I believe that the way it is notated here is: the note locations indicate the string (e a d g b e low to high) and the numbers above them indicate the fret at which to make the harmonic. Thus the pitches are

  • g 19 = d (+ a fifth +1 octave)
  • b 19 = f#
  • e 19 = b
  • g 12 = g (+ an octave)
  • b 12 = b
  • e 7 = b (+ a fifth +1 octave)
  • a 7 = e

where I've indicated where the sounding note lies in relation to the note indicated by the diamond note head. The harmonic produced at the 19th fret is the same as the one generated at the seventh.

  • Could be artificial harmonic as well,.
    – Neil Meyer
    Commented Feb 5, 2015 at 7:08
  • @NeilMeyer but on the picture, it's natural harmonic. Artificial harmonic may have some notes above it.
    – seseorang
    Commented Feb 5, 2015 at 9:37
  • Great. That makes so much sense: I was stuck in my piano-oriented mind and didn't think about harmonics for a second.
    – Lolo
    Commented Feb 5, 2015 at 15:35
  • @Dave Is this notation a standard one? I mean, if I see a diamond-shaped note in the high E position, can I be sure it must be played on the first string, or can it be a 5th-fret harmonic on the 6th string? Also, is this notation used with artificial harmonics?
    – anatolyg
    Commented Feb 5, 2015 at 16:46
  • Usually I've seen it where the note that is sounded is indicated by the diamond note head; e.g. f# from the 19th fret of the b string would be indicated with the notehead on the top line of the staff, usually with an 8va indication, like here: acousticguitar.com/How-To/Acoustic-Guitar-Notation-Guide. That's why I hedged in my answer, but interpreting the 19s as fret numbers seemed to be the only thing that made sense.
    – Dave
    Commented Feb 5, 2015 at 18:23

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