I'm trying to play 'Gran Vals' by Tarrega, and the music score has several letters accompanied by a number on top of the notes, for example:

C.2a_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __ _

In some cases there are words like


Here is the score:


What does this mean?

Can any one provide a link where I can review this type of notation?


1 Answer 1


These expressions are common in classical guitar music.

ten: means tenuto, which is a playing style used for effect. Each note should be held for its full length. Do not confuse this with legato, tenuto is holding notes for their full length but not necessarily playing them smoothly or softly.

The C.2a Is a barre. This is unique to stringed instruments and it is when you lay one finger (usually the first finger) across all or some of the strings on one fret. A full barre is across all six strings, while a half barre is across the top three or so strings (sometimes four). The number shows you which fret this is done on. the ------¬ written after this shows you how long to hold the barre for in the music, and you should lift your finger at the end of the line.

I have not seen a barre written in this form before, usually it is written as a capital 'C' followed by roman numerals for the fret and the same line indication. A half fraction before the 'C' (or a dash vertically through it) indicates a half barre:

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  • Thank you! It makes it easier to understand how to play this piece. Is there a link you recommend where all of this notation is explained? The results that came up after I googled were somewhat confusing. Thanks again! Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 11:28
  • this was from my own knowledge with reassurance from google, but i'll look for a site for you.
    – Aric
    Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 11:29
  • Try this page for notation, and this page for expressions (use CTRL + F to search for the right term)
    – Aric
    Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 11:42
  • "A half fraction before the 'C' indicates a half barre" An alternative notation is a dashed C , eg musescore.org/sites/musescore.org/files/Example_3.jpg
    – leonbloy
    Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 17:11

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