What does it mean when two notes of the same pitch with different lengths occupy the same space? In this example, the F-A-C chord should take up the third beat of the measure. It seems to be tied to a F-A-C-E eighth note chord of the next measure. How do I account for what appears to be a pair of eighth notes (C-E) at the end of the first measure?

the first measure from Molasses To Rum form 1776


2 Answers 2


To me, this looks like a way of differentiating voices. It's hard to read some of that, but the written text seems to indicate a harp is playing those chords and a flute is playing the eighth note melody


It's a piano/conductor score, not a piano part. It clearly shows what the woodwind are doing and what the harp is doing. If the harp started on D instead of C, you wouldn't be worried. Well, it starts on C.

But even in music written to be specifically played on keyboard, this sort of thing often happens when two melodic lines share the same pitch. The composer is showing the musical structure. The player copes!

  • so, would you assume that the downward pointing stems refer to woodwinds and the upward stems are harp or flute? I think the WW is playing an F-A-C chord that is a quarter note tied to an eighth note, followed by another quarter note. At the same time, the flute (or harp?) is playing 8th notes of C, E, E, C
    – mankowitz
    Commented Aug 18, 2017 at 19:37
  • Yes, that is what is clearly indicated in this score. It seems that the flute enters on the second half of beat 3. There's a 'build up' effect going on here.
    – Laurence
    Commented Aug 19, 2017 at 12:09
  • Actually, looking again, it's more likely the harp would take the chord, flute the melody. What is 'clearly indicated' is probably wrong!
    – Laurence
    Commented Aug 19, 2017 at 22:36

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