Is it correct that the first note here is a 64th while the others are 32th? Or is the first note just an 8th? This mixing of writing 'wavy' notes with beams confuses me.

It's from Franz Liszt's 'La Campanella'. The '3' is just the finger.

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2 Answers 2


The note on the second space up is a quaver (1/8th note) and a demi-semiquaver (1/32 note). It's actually written in two parts - sort of top half of SATB, if you will. The stems' or tails' direction is important, as the note in question has stems up and down. It's like the stems up are one voice, stems down another. And it's tidier to write it out like this. The first note will be kept on until all four have been played. I guess the rest of the bar (measure) is similar.

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    Isn't it just a demisemiquaver (1/32 note) rather than hemi-demi-semi? One beam would be quavers, two beams = semiquavers, three beams = demisemiquavers, right?
    – psmears
    Jan 24, 2018 at 14:38
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    @psmears you've just restarted the "quaver vs. powers of two" flame war :-) Jan 24, 2018 at 14:51
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    @CarlWitthoft: Really? Oh no... I was trying hard not to - by giving both versions in the first instance, and then sticking to the one this answer seems to prefer... is that not enough? Or is it time to don my flame-proof asbestos onesie? :-)
    – psmears
    Jan 24, 2018 at 14:53
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    @CarlWitthoft - you say potato... I'd have still got it wrong with your obviously far superior way, 'cos I nearly ran out of fingers...
    – Tim
    Jan 24, 2018 at 15:04
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    When we get into hemi-demi-semiquavers, I truly feel that naming convention is impractical. Jan 24, 2018 at 18:58

No, tails and beams aren't additive. We've got two 'voices' here - the upper one is a full-length 8th, cobering the lower one's four 32nds.

But there's a lot of questions to be asked about this fragment! For a start, there's a triplet '3' over FOUR notes! What's that meant to mean? And then the upper-voice 8th is marked stacatissimo, which somewhat contradicts its length!

I can see (I think) what is intended. The first note is to be 'brought out' as the melody, but isn't to be prolonged. But we need more information. Is it preceded and followed by similar figures? What period? What instrument is it written for? Piano? Violin? When asking a question, try to give us a bit TOO much information, not just the bare minimum.

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    Thanks for the answer. Yes it is preceded and followed by similar figures. It's from Franz Liszt's 'La Campanella', so for piano and 19th century. The '3' is just the finger.
    – Matriz
    Jan 24, 2018 at 12:56
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    Were that '3' to designate triplet, it would be central over three dots, and usually have a slur type mark as well. Agree about the staccatissimo mark !
    – Tim
    Jan 24, 2018 at 13:45
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    @Tim: Ideally, yes. But honestly, this score looks like a score from Durand, and they never cared too much for positioning of the tuplet numbers (from their scores I've seen). Sometimes they even use the same "font" for all numbers, and they never ever use tuplet brackets. So go figure if a "3" floating in the middle of nothing is a fingering or a triplet.
    – Ramillies
    Jan 24, 2018 at 14:04
  • @Matriz: Could you integrate your comment into the question?
    – guidot
    Jan 24, 2018 at 16:56
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    The "3" is a fingering. Tuplet-numerals are printed in italics.
    – Rosie F
    Jan 25, 2018 at 8:12

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