Is there any symbol in music notation that instructs a complete, immediate sound muting (silencing) such as preventing a guitar strings resonating with muting techniques or releasing the sustain pedal of the piano per se?

  • 3
    I think normally rests are interpreted to mean no sound should be produced by the instrument at that time. Does that not seem like what you're talking about? – Todd Wilcox Aug 3 '17 at 2:00
  • 1
    @ToddWilcox Most musical instrument will still have some resonating (depending on the acoustic potential of the instrument and the environment) sound on the rests. Some instruments can terminate that sound and I am looking for a way to instruct one to do so, if possible, through the music sheet. – Edenia Aug 3 '17 at 2:08
  • On some modern recorders there is a special key that suspends the labium with a valve just as it has a key to do that on the bell. The resulting effect is either a different more soft sound (when partially suspended) or a quick way to terminate sound from it in an ultimate manner (when fully closed). – Edenia Aug 3 '17 at 2:13
  • @ToddWilcox The best example will probably be the gong as it will sound continuously until you stop it vibrating manually and then it stops sharply. – Edenia Aug 3 '17 at 2:16
  • 3
    In the examples in your question, when reading a rest on guitar or piano music, the player should mute the strings or drop the dampers, respectively. If the strings shouldn't be stopped on a rest, usually "let ring" is written in the music. So there is no additional symbol needed for guitar or piano. If sound continues in a recorder after the player stops blowing, my ears aren't good enough to hear it. – Todd Wilcox Aug 3 '17 at 2:50

I think you should write a rest with perhaps some accent on the note beforehand preceding to indicate that your rest means business. Even if you were able to find some obscure symbol that represents that you mean an "aggressive" rest I'm not sure how it would help you; presumably the objective behind standardized music notation is to communicate what you mean to other musicians in an expedient fashion, and there is nothing understood more quickly and definitively in music than the rest.

Generally speaking, if one is playing an instrument where bleeding resonance is a problem, the question of how to interpret a rest is an issue of technique, not comprehension. A professional musician that sees a rest, in other words, will not be heard in any capacity for the duration of that rest.


In strings mostly, you can stop sound upon a note by using a technique called "muffling" and one can indicate it with that symbol:

enter image description here

This may apply to other instruments as well that mechanically do the same thing whether it is with a pedal, valve a key or with bare hands. Another scenario this symbol has been used in is when choking a cymbal. The mechanism is exactly the same. In woodwinds this appears to be possible as well, as long as you understand your instrument and where the sound is coming from.

You can additionally write some text such as forte to stress on the requirement for the muffle to be "sharp" or "aggressive". Another way is to simply use a rest and when playing strings, the player is supposed to mute / muffle the sound for the duration of the rest.

  • 1
    This symbol, which is often also used for choking a cymbal, may not fully answer the question. This symbol indicates to immediately silence the instrument. So the note duration is inconsequential, and changing the note from a quarter note to a sixteenth note would have no impact because in both cases the musician immediately silences the instrument. The symbol can't be used to indicate that the instrument should be silenced at a later time or at a specific later beat. I'm not sure whether a rest implies what you want, but I don't see the question as limited only to an immediate silencing. – jdjazz Aug 3 '17 at 12:18
  • @jdjazz I am a bit confused.. this symbol, if used properly will do the thing. It is the closest to what I meant by sharp/instant muting if not the same. – Edenia Aug 3 '17 at 22:32
  • I don't see where your question mentions that the muting should be immediate. – jdjazz Aug 3 '17 at 22:34
  • Well, I tried to clarify that, in the comments of my question. Also, I am not a native speaker, there is a proper word with relatively close meaning to "immediate" in my language, perfect for this case, but google translator translated it as "sharp" which may not be as exact as I intended. – Edenia Aug 3 '17 at 23:03
  • I think this would all be fixed by editing the word "immediate" or something along those lines into the question. – jdjazz Aug 3 '17 at 23:18

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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