The Chopin - Godowsky Revolutionary Etude No 12 is arranged for the left hand only, and we're only informed about this by a note under the title. Please see the excerpt below:

Chopin - Godowsky Revolutionary Etude

I am currently writing a piece for piano only for the left hand. I have only one staff with the treble clef for piano. Without any additional notes, we would play it with the right hand autonomously.

I would like to know if I, too, should just indicate to play the piece with the left hand only as in the excerpt above—or are there any other (notation) signs to show this?

Thank you.

  • 1
    Would there be ANY reason why such a piece HAS to be played with only one hand? Apart from the obvious 'I only have a l.h.' and 'look at me, this is good' ? Maybe an opportunity to down a pint with the r.h. simultaneously ? Now that would be good !
    – Tim
    Aug 20, 2015 at 7:38
  • It is mainly an unusual etude for the left hand.
    – Veo
    Aug 21, 2015 at 7:40
  • "Would there be ANY reason why such a piece HAS to be played with only one hand? Apart from the obvious 'I only have a l.h.' and 'look at me, this is good'?" While at university, my girlfriend had an accident that damaged her right hand. For all of her sophomore year, she was allowed to study left hand only pieces and allowed to play her sophomore recitals and her year-end jury with them. Thus, she was able to complete her graduate degree within the standard, four-year time period. Oct 14, 2021 at 22:40
  • If it's an Etude for left hand only, surely the title would provide more than enough indication as most people would title it "Etude for Left Hand Only" or something along those lines, no?
    – Divide1918
    Oct 15, 2021 at 17:46

2 Answers 2


In principle you could use the Italian marking "M.S. solo" meaning literally "Left hand only". But "Solo" might be read with a different meaning (i.e. "this piece is for one player"), even though that would seem to make little sense in your context. I think you would be better using a full sentence in your native language, either in the title or at the start of the notation, as in the Godowsky example.

I would expect most pianists would want to know that the piece was for left hand alone when reading the title, before they looked at the complete score.


bottom staff defaults to left hand unless otherwise notated. as does top to RH.

  • The question is about how to notate that the treble clef (top line) should be played with the left hand, not which one is which. Aug 20, 2015 at 3:41
  • This would probably end up with lots of leger lines, or - '8va' written.
    – Tim
    Aug 20, 2015 at 7:35
  • 1
    Are you suggesting writing the whole piece on a grand stave, with the top staff full of rests throughout? Oct 14, 2021 at 23:14

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