How would sheet music be written for vocals in a right-to-left language (Hebrew or Arabic)? It seems there would be a clash between the left-to-right convention of sheet music and the right-to-left of the language.

  • @JacobSwanson: Ah, but surely those Yiddish versions of my favourite Lieder do?
    – user20731
    Jul 8, 2015 at 14:52

3 Answers 3


One possibility that is seen in Hebrew occasionally is to print a mirrored score (including all symbols) apart from the lyrics. Most of the time, however, you just get the score straight, and the lyrics left-to-right, syllable by right-to-left syllable. I would imagine that it takes some practice singing that.

  • 3
    Thanks for this answer. Can you show an example? I looked for one and couldn't find any.
    – LarsH
    Jan 27, 2022 at 15:48

Here's an image of a hymnal in St. George's Cathedral, Jerusalem. It shows Western music notation, written right-to-left, with the clefs and key sig on the right hand side, and a well-known hymn tune (Forest Green).

enter image description here

  • I see the music symbols are written in a right-to-left order, but the symbols themselves aren't mirrored. Interesting Jul 23, 2022 at 16:51
  • 1
    Reversed sheet music is surprisingly easy to read to me, at least compared to reversed english text (txet hsilgne desrever).
    – Edward
    Jul 23, 2022 at 20:28

I haven't seen many examples, but on this Persian web site, they use Roman letters for the words in the sheet music:

song with words in Roman script

Note that most of the web site uses Persian (Arabic-based) script, including the pages that show the words of songs without the melody:

song with words in Persian script

So the roman letters above are an exception, presumably used for the purpose of fitting into the left-to-right musical notation.

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