Is there such a thing as an implied tie? Like some kind of symbol or notation that would specify to hold a note through the duration of all the notes on a pitch as if they were tied together.

Edit: I am asking because I am wondering if there is a way to specify that instruments hold one tone (like a choir that is humming) instead of playing each note separately. The reason I am wondering is because I am using a notation program to write out some music, and then you can listen to it, and I want to hear it like a choir humming. I know about ties, but I just thought I'd check if there is such a thing in music.

Edit: By implied, I mean it isn't written in the music. In other words it is specified at the beginning of the part or something like that.

Edit: I am using Noteworthy Composer.

  • Out of curiosity, why do you ask?
    – Luke_0
    Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 19:50
  • Yes, what's wrong with just using a tie? Edit: "a way to specify that instruments hold one tone instead of playing each note separately" sounds like legato. I don't see how this relates to a choir humming?
    – user28
    Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 19:53
  • What instrument? Clarinet? Harp? Pipe organ? Commented Jun 22, 2012 at 2:12
  • it would be pipe organ type of sound rather than piano. IOW, sustained for the duration of the "key press". Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 21:16
  • Also, it relates to a chior humming, in that if the next note is the same, they won't release and then attack it, they'll just keep on humming. For that matter, they usually don't even release except for a breath (well, I don't really know what the pros do, but I don't). Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 21:24

5 Answers 5


If you want a long, sustained note, you could notate it in quite a few different ways. Below are some suggestions. Not all will actually save you time, by cutting notation, though! Each of these is only five bars long, so, obviously, you would only get any time benefit from using these techniques with longer notes.

BTW, I haven't used Noteworthy Composer before, so have no idea if they would work with that software. I used Sibelius7 for these, and all played back exactly the same (apart from the second line), i.e. with one sustained note per bar.

  1. Standard Notation.
  2. Similar notation using ties into rests; even though this doesn't require notes to be written, it would actually take more time to put in as the placement of the ties is fiddly. For instruments where the sound decays (eg. piano, guitar) you would usually use l.v. too.
  3. Using repeat-bar marks can save a lot of time.
  4. This notation is effectively the same, and plays back the same, but is less clear; it's not clear whether you attack the second note…
  5. And of course, if in doubt, use text to make the intention clear in the score.

enter image description here

With this answer I've tried to show different kinds of notation for sustained notes that would be valid within a score. Not all of them would save time if all you actually want is to hear the music (or to create a MIDI file of it, for instance). If all you want is to create a long held pitch, as quickly and easily as possible, the notation below will create the necessary effect (well, again, it works in Sibelius7, but might not in other software). But it is certainly not correct notation!

enter image description here

  • How about using a whole note in the first, second, and last measures, repeat-measure marks in the interim, and a single long slur mark that extends uninterrupted from the first measure to the last under all of the repeated measures?
    – supercat
    Commented Sep 18, 2014 at 16:59
  • @Bob, the style of the last example (Ped through rests) is frequently used... for piano.
    – user16935
    Commented Feb 14, 2015 at 18:12
  • Example 5 is ambiguious. You instruct to hold for 5 bars, but clearly notate a seperate note in bar 5. If you want playback from a notation program, just write the tied notes and don't try to concoct a shortcut.
    – Laurence
    Commented Nov 20, 2016 at 10:53

As I understand your question, no there is not. A tie is always written out with a curved line connecting two or more notes of the same pitch.

The only thing that I can think of that comes close is a dotted note. However, a dotted note is viewed as one note, not multiple notes tied together.

  • Hopefully my edit explains it. Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 20:19
  • I see. A tied note should work for your purposes. If it makes it any easier, a tie can cover more than two notes.
    – Luke_0
    Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 20:25
  • Yeah, it does, I just wish I wouldn't have to add all those ties, but I guess it's not like I'm working with beethovan or something like that, it's just hymns. Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 20:27
  • If the notes are changing pitch, though, make sure it's a slur. Plenty of music programs get confused if you start adding ties to notes that don't have the same note next. Commented Jun 24, 2012 at 14:17
  • Yeah, this program (Noteworthy Composer) indicates exactly what it will do. Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 21:21

It depends on the instrument. The abbreviation "l.v." is used. It stands for "lasciare vibrare" in Italian, or "let vibrate" or as luser droog says, "let ring". It is used for percussion instruments like the tam-tam and timpani, and also for harp and similar instruments.

For piano music Beethoven uses "senza sordini" which means "without dampers", i.e. hold the damper pedal down. See the first movement of the Moonlight Sonata (Sonata number 14).

Your best bet is to just write instructions at the beginning telling the musician what to do.


In guitar music you occasionally find the remark "Let Ring." This means tones are held as long as possible, until that finger is required elsewhere. A somewhat similar effect is produced by holding the sostenuto pedal on a piano.

[Perhaps my terminology implies more expertise than I actually possess. I learned on an antique player-piano with the player mechanism discarded. It had a pedal that moved all the hammers closer to the strings thus curbing the range of accelleration, the 'piano' pedal. And it had a pedal to raise all the dampers so every tone rang until it had diminished below the threshold of perception. It is this pedal that I mean by 'sostenuto'. To use it musically, you have to clear the memory while sounding a new chord, so as to have no gap in the sound. There are some fancy "modern" pianos that can sustain only the notes currently being played, allowing staccatto on the other keys. The player-pianos of yore did not have this ability.]

While the staff notation would be no different than not doing this, it does seem to require explicit instructions (e.g., "Hold pedal until a chord can hide the pedal change."). Instructing software to do this would be somewhat different than instructing musicians.

  • There are other instances in musical notation with implied notation such as an accidental carrying over to other notes in the same measure. As to let ring and sostenuto, this is not hold[ing] a note through the duration of all the notes. There is but pone lengthy note being played in these instances.
    – Luke_0
    Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 22:44
  • I tried to capture that distinction with my weaselly 'somewhat similar'. Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 23:07
  • In the same sense, you could call a fermata 'somewhat similar'.
    – Luke_0
    Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 23:10
  • I think I get what you're saying now. It's not like a tie because you still have the attack of the second note. But it is like a slur, which looks pretty much the same. Commented Jun 21, 2012 at 3:46

Now, just a moment... Hymns, Choir, Implicit Ties...

Could you be talking about like Gregorian Chant kind of stuff? AFIK, Gregorian Chant is distinguished in notation by having only four lines, with or without a clef, which may be any letter a-h ("No B♭, that's a Bad B♭!").

Older than that is notation based on 'neumes' which I never really understood. But neume comes from 'pneuma', greek for spirit or breath; so with both of these, the notes comprising one word of the text are to be sung as if tied together.

For software, I'd search for something with a Chant mode, or a plugin or something. This has got to be already-explored territory. 2¢

  • This is not standard, modern notation.
    – Luke_0
    Commented Jun 23, 2012 at 14:49

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