This is taken from a piece of sheet music (which I originally thought was for piano) for "Save Tonight" by Eagle-Eye Cherry.

I do not recognize these notes in the beginning - can somebody tell me what they mean?

"Save Tonight", Intro, mm. 1-2

  • 2
    Why so mysterious - what's the piece? More information might help people to answer.
    – user48353
    May 2, 2018 at 0:35
  • @replete I'd be careful about making the question specific to a piece. They tend to get closed.
    – endorph
    May 2, 2018 at 0:59
  • 2
    @endorph, You're missing the point. Your answer couldn't explain the up/down bow symbols, so I'm trying to get a larger excerpt. There are many questions on this site about specific pieces. If the question is asked in a general way, as this one is, there's no problem.
    – user48353
    May 2, 2018 at 1:00
  • @replete That's fair, I guess. We're just a little trigger happy on closing questions that are specific to a piece, so I don't want to fly too close to the sun, so to speak.
    – endorph
    May 2, 2018 at 1:05
  • @replete - there's enough information contained in the question. The red herring is it's from a piano piece. It's unusual to have a section showing rhythm guitar parts, and strange that bass is included - but without any pitch involved. That'd be my question. And if it's muted, quite possibly, it ought to have x heads instead., as I suspect the question is more about head shape than other signs (V, etc.)
    – Tim
    May 2, 2018 at 6:57

1 Answer 1


This notation (slashed noteheads) is used to show rhythm, without showing specific notes. The player must choose which notes to play, based on the chord symbols.

It's sort of a half-way point between a chord chart, and full notation. I often see it used in a chord chart or lead sheet to notate an important rhythm. They don't use full notation because it's not particularly useful in this context.

The articulations are intended to indicate whether the guitar player should use an upstroke [the V-like symbol] or a downstroke [the other one, like a square n]. This is because the text underneath indicates that this is a guitar riff (with bass and drums on the second time through). This articulation doesn't really apply to keyboard. You may choose to accent the notes differently, or possibly not play the riff at all (especially if you have a guitarist). You'll have to decide what sounds best.

  • To add to this answer: if this was music for singers, it would indicate you speak rather than sing the words. Jan 18 at 8:16
  • @AliceHeaton Isn't speech usually indicated with a cross for the notehead, rather than a diagonal line?
    – gidds
    Jan 20 at 22:14

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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