I usually know what it means when a note has both a stem pointing up and another pointing down (What does this note have a stem pointing up and another pointing down?), but what if it has something like a staccato in one voice, while something else (e.g. legato) in the other? In the example below, should I play the second to last note in the bass clef as a 16th-note staccato or hold it as a regular quarter note?

enter image description here

(Excerpt from the 2nd movement of Beethoven’s Sonata No. 2, Op. 2/2)

Also, is there a general rule for playing this (like “hold down for the full duration of the longer note value”, which seems to usually be the case), or is it just contextual, or perhaps a matter of interpretation that’s up to the performer?

  • Hold for the duration of the longer note. The lower voice continues, while the higher voice is still playing that note.
    – Aric
    Aug 15, 2016 at 13:22
  • Aric's right, but your example is confusing me. What are the clefs? I don't see any instances of the same note other than the repeated A in the treble (assumed) clef.
    – user28
    Aug 15, 2016 at 14:48
  • I am referring to the fifth 16-note in the left hand/bottom staff, the D with stems going both up and down.
    – fioritura
    Aug 15, 2016 at 15:04
  • I'm just seeing this after it's been edited, but it's certainly not a duplicate now. Good question.
    – Bacs
    Aug 15, 2016 at 15:14
  • 1
    Fun Fact ( :-) ) - on string instruments that indicates playing the same note on two strings simultaneously. Aug 16, 2016 at 11:36

1 Answer 1


Under the circumstances, you're going to have to fake it. The tenor needs to be held, so you'll need to give an impression of a staccato note at unison. You do this by creating a commonality between the held note and the staccato bass notes, and that will likely be by stressing all the bass notes (including the held one) very slightly. This is usually a tendency when playing staccato anyway, and very definitely when playing staccatissimo like this passage.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.