enter image description here

Suppose I play this section on a piano.

Should C4 be pressed down 2 separate times?

Or should I just hold it until the end (pressing keys C4GAC5, then ONLY F)?

Thanks a lot!

* For the context, it's from Chopin's Etudes No. 10 Op. 12. Here is one whole line of the sheet: enter image description here

  • The fifth and the flat sixth just sound horrific when played together. I have no idea why you would want to play them at the same time.
    – Marc Perry
    Nov 13, 2016 at 7:46
  • 1
    I don't know either, Chopin once decided to put it there
    – Phoebus
    Nov 13, 2016 at 7:47

2 Answers 2


Both the Ab and the C stay held for the whole bar. The G changes to F half way through.The top C is held for only 3 beats, but since it's the top voice, with up tail, it really needs a crotchet rest after the second chord. A tie will only join two (or more) notes that are the same. So it won't join anything except the two Cs. Afraid it's not very well written at all!

  • Your question shows that you recognize it as a tie, so you know the answer. It's a peculiar way to write it though, when one voice already uses a whole note. Why not that voice too? Perhaps there is context that you haven't mentioned? Nov 11, 2016 at 20:14
  • @LaurencePayne Thanks for the response! For the context, this is from Chopin's Étude Op. 10, No. 12. As for the question, I wasn't sure how strong is tie notation acting on notes. I tried to look up the definition first but I didn't find one that is specific enough to solve my problem. It would be great if you could let me know anything that I can refer to.
    – Phoebus
    Nov 11, 2016 at 21:01
  • Will Wikipedia do? In this case it offers a concise and correct definition: "In music notation, a tie is a curved line connecting the heads of two notes of the same pitch and name, indicating that they are to be played as a single note with a duration equal to the sum of the individual notes' values. A tie is similar in appearance to a slur, however slurs join notes of different pitches which need to be played independently, but seamlessly." en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tie_(music) Nov 12, 2016 at 17:39
  • @LaurencePayne - the OP, probably a beginner, obviously wondered whether the dots on the down stem were tied together. Let's face it, it could be written far better, anyway. The Ab is a semibreve, and the low C could be also. There would be no doubt as to which voice it is, being the lowest note. Maybe if the OP had seen Wiki. the question wouldn't have been posed. It's so with quite a few.
    – Tim
    Nov 12, 2016 at 17:56
  • Hi @LaurencePayne, I checked WikiPedia in the first place. However because I learnt to play the piano in a language other than English in the very first place, I wasn't sure even after reading it, that whether under a tie notation the pitches are bounded together. I don't have my mentor around me so I decided to post a question here. Thanks for the help anyways.
    – Phoebus
    Nov 13, 2016 at 7:36

The OP's notation seems to be based on what was in the first edition, which apparently has a couple of typos in that bar - the Ab whole note is in a strange place, and the top C at the start of the bar doesn't have a dot.

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Most later editions have rewritten this with the bottom C as a whole note: enter image description here

enter image description here

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It has always been a challenge for engravers to lay out keyboard music of this complexity so it is "easy to read", and different publishers often come up with different solutions. Also note the variety of "creative interpretations" added to Chopin's simple directions of "pp" and "Poco rall"!

IMSLP is a great resource for comparing different editions of standard works like this - unless you are required to use a specified edition for an exam or a competition, look at everything available and make up your own mind how you want to play the piece.

  • May I know where did you find the version with ped notations? I have been gussing them myself this whole time. Thanks :D
    – Phoebus
    Nov 13, 2016 at 8:04
  • In the first example, the Ab semibreve is correctly placed -- according to engraving standards of the time. (French, anyway -- I'm not sure about elsewhere -- Artaria placed them at the left.) There was a convention that a note that fills a bar may be placed further to the right -- even about halfway across the bar! All the above applies when there are also shorter-duration notes at the start of the bar -- if all the bar's notes fill it, the issue doesn't arise, and, even nowadays, the notes may be put further away from the preceding bar line than is usual when there are shorter notes.
    – Rosie F
    Nov 13, 2016 at 8:30

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