I want to write a harp glissando that starts at the end of one bar (Bar 1) and ends in the next bar (Bar 2), only rather than end on the first beat of Bar 2, I want it to extend an 8th further, as below:

Example harp glissando over a rest

I’m fairly certain this is incorrect (notice the poor 8th rest hidden behind the glissando), so what’s the proper way to notate this?

  • 2
    This is applicable to any instrument's gliss. Aug 21, 2018 at 12:20
  • I would be concerned that the audience will hear this as a gliss ending slightly "too soon" as though the gliss were supposed to land on the second beat. A terminating gliss (or any run) that doesn't end on the beat will likely not be heard as such. Aug 21, 2018 at 12:27
  • Is it possible to tie the note across the bar? Not sure how the gliss would be rendered then, but to my eyes the rest is completely wrong, as it is, by definition, a period of silence. Maybe this notation is how it's commonly done, but I would inwardly wince every time I saw it.
    – ScottM
    Aug 21, 2018 at 19:56
  • Probably I'm missing something here, but why don't you make it a quarter note on the beat?
    – Creynders
    Jun 7, 2019 at 14:24
  • @Creynders This was specifically about how to notate a gliss. that began before a bar and then extended past the first beat of the next bar. I already know how to write a gliss. that starts & lands on a beat. ;-)
    – Walter
    Jun 7, 2019 at 19:53

2 Answers 2


There is nothing really wrong with your notation, except the annoyance that the gliss line collides with the rest.

You could fix that by moving the top of the gliss line down to the end of the flag, rather than to the notehead.

If the bar line was not there, you would write the first note as a dotted quarter, but it seems a bit pointless to tie the first note to an 8th note - and somebody might wrongly decide you mean the gliss to start on that 8th note!

  • I've seen sheet music in where a rest was moved (say, downwards a few lines) to avoid it colliding with a gliss. line. Would this be a workable solution? If so, is there any convention on how far to move the rest?
    – Walter
    Aug 21, 2018 at 13:21
  • At the end of the day, the only "convention" for any music notation is "if it looks confusing, then change it so it doesn't"! All the "conventional rules" of notation are just ways that have already been discovered, to avoid confusion in common situations.
    – user19146
    Aug 21, 2018 at 19:04
  • Hmm. Continuing from Kilian Foth’s answer below: What if I did draw a “middle” note on the beat of the second bar, positioning it right in the center of the gliss. line and splitting it in two, only then I put the notehead in parentheses? Would it be clear that it’s meant to make the rhythm visually clear and that the player should treat the bracketed notehead as part of a continuous glissando?
    – Walter
    Aug 21, 2018 at 22:35
  • In the time since posting this question I’ve come to believe your suggestion is correct – though I’d replace the rest above with a tied eighth note, maybe in parentheses, below – so I’m marking this as the answer. Thanks again.
    – Walter
    Jun 7, 2019 at 19:55

Just stop the glissando on the beat, write another 8th note approximately where it would pass by at that point, and write another glissando line to the off-beat. Adjacent glissandos are impossible to distinguish from one long glissando, and the harpist will undoubtedly understand what you want.

  • 2
    I'm not a harp expert, but if you wrote adjacent glissandos for piano, I would assume you wanted the "joining" note to be played with the other hand, as an "accent" in the middle of the glissando. I guess the same effect would be technically possible on the harp.
    – user19146
    Aug 21, 2018 at 10:03
  • This is not how it should be written. I would certainly interpret it as gliss, hold, gliss. Aug 21, 2018 at 12:25
  • @CarlWitthoft so how should it be written, to indicate a continuous gliss but with an accented note part way through the gliss?
    – user19146
    Aug 21, 2018 at 19:06
  • @alephzero Interesting concept. Maybe the glissando plus a ghost-note with an accent over it, placed on the staff properly overlapping the gliss line where you'd expect that pitch to be reached? Aug 22, 2018 at 12:24
  • This is a good method, especially if you put parentheses around the notehead on the beat.
    – Peter
    Jun 6, 2019 at 21:56

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