How should I play the half bass notes with the slashed stem?

See please the attached image:

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2 Answers 2


It's called measured tremolo, and is a shorthand for writing a series of eighth notes. It means that you are to play repeated eighth notes that fill the time of the half note. So, for example, in the first measure, you'd play four eighth notes of A, followed by four eighth notes of G♯.

  • See also: music.stackexchange.com/questions/20649/… Commented Jul 8, 2015 at 5:43
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    Uncommon in a piano score. Much more common in instrumental music, where repeated notes are a frequent feature of string parts in particular.
    – Laurence
    Commented Jul 8, 2015 at 13:39
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    To be precise, the repetition rate is typically two notes per beat. If this were in cut time (2/2), then you'd play two notes for each half note, not four. Commented Jul 8, 2015 at 16:12
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    Thank you for the answer Caleb Hines. Finally, I think that the half note means that these notes are played as quarters. The piece of music is the Resurreccion del Angel by Astor Piazzolla a slow tango and I can clearly hear this quarters on the bass lines.
    – vagoo
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 14:39
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    If there were two slashes through the stem of a half note, it would be 8th notes, and if there were three slashes through the stem of a half note, it would be 16th notes, etc.
    – user1044
    Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 2:47

Just in case a total music nerd comes across this: a note stem with slash is the modern transcription of a "plica" in Modal (meaning: 12th/13th century School of Notre Dame) notation.

A plica is a single note with stems on both left and right side, both up or both down. The left stem has no meaning, but the right one indicates that the note is "plicated". This means that the note length (typically a longa, rendered as a quarter note) is split in two notes (therefore: eights), with the second a diatonic step up or down depending on the stem direction. In modern transcriptions, the stem of the second note receives a slash, to indicate that it was a plica in the original.

Example: https://imslp.org/wiki/Magnus_Liber_Organi_(Various) part 2, opening page, 3rd staff, 2nd note.

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    I'm afraid this answer is not too informative. Could you add an example of such notation, and an explanation how it should be realized? Commented May 5, 2023 at 19:32

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