As a composer, say I want to notate that musician should play the Bb that is on the D string at eighth fret with 4th finger. Is there a standard notation? I don't mean TAB. More like D.8 (4) or like that?

This would apply to other fretted instruments like guitar too.


In standard notation, for fretted string instruments, left hand fingers are usually indicated with small numbers near the note heads, see https://goo.gl/images/6ixrEm

For guitar, the string is sometimes indicated with a circled number above/below the note, c.f. https://goo.gl/images/3WyX0g, but usually this is only done in teaching materials. Outside teaching materials, this type of marking almost never present. For guitar, given the (left-hand) fingerings, and the context there is almost never any ambiguity about which string is required (for mandolin, where the frets are closer together there might be more opportunity for ambiguity).

  • Thanks Dave, I know that. I suppose the player should know from context which string that should be on?
    – Eric O
    Dec 3 '16 at 18:45
  • @EricO updated to address comment
    – Dave
    Dec 4 '16 at 0:46

The mandolin fingering follows (for the most part) the violin fingering.

Playing the bflat on the D string with the 4th finger puts you in second position. Putting a 4 above the note should tell the mandolinist the position to use by context, but if you want to be sure there are a few ways:

Put a roman numeral III at the passage to indicate it is played on the D or 3rd string.

Write Sul D before the passage indicating it is played on the D string.

Use the term "2 pos", which I have seen, but don't recommend.

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