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What does the symbol before the fermata mean?

Music staff with a three notes. The first note has nothing above it, the second has an inverted "v" symbol with a dot in the centre above it, and the third has a fermata above it.

I found this symbol in this publication of Ludovico Einaudi's Nuvole Bianche, bar 98 and bar 101.

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    Both are written by composers who can't be bothered to state just how long they want a note to be held for. The former is shorter.
    – Tim
    Commented Apr 5, 2016 at 19:07
  • @Tim, yeah, it seems kind of pointless to specify a "shorter" or "longer" fermata, since all fermatas mean "get your nose out of your music and look up at the conductor for how long this note should last!"
    – NH.
    Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 18:17
  • @NH. I think the reason to have different "length" fermatas is for the conductor to have more information for deciding how long they will conduct the note length. I suppose you could copy out the parts with semicircular fermatas and leave the funny shapes on the conductor's score alone, but seems like an unnecessary step for the music copyist/software to take when there's no harm in having the symbols match between full score and parts. Commented Apr 19, 2021 at 21:13

3 Answers 3

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It's still a fermata and is typically referred to as triangle fermata. It's shorter than a typical fermata, but holds the same idea of prolonging the note longer than the value written. There's another variant of the fermata referred to as a square fermata that you hold longer than a typical fermata. You can see them all in the Dolmetsch musical symbols dictionary.

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    It should be noted that while the fermata is commonplace, and square fermatas are somewhat frequent in modern scores, the triangle fermata is really, really rare. I've been using sheet music for decades, and I've never encountered a single one, ever. Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 6:23
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It is just a "shorter" fermata. Not official notation (actually, what is official) but modern composers used different shapes of fermatas to indicate different lengths. Most notably Poulenc.

Still, it remains subjective. Fermatas are never a precise alteration.

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It's a modern version of a fermata. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fermata.

Some composers use these to represent differing lengths of pauses.

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