I've been trying to play this piece: Debussy's Clair de Lune arranged by Clint S. Mers (just in case of copyright)

Focusing on the left hand for the highlighted bar, it looks like it doesn't fit in with the 9/8 time (7 beats in that bar I think). But if I try to play them together, it looks impossible since it wants my left hand to reach over one and a half octaves while my right hand is occupied. I'm a casual piano player (never been taught piano specifically but have learnt very basic music theory) but I'm sure even experts wouldn't be expected to span this wide (I could be, and am probably, wrong). Am I reading this wrong or am I missing some special technique? How should I play this bar (and hence the next bar too)?

  • Notice that this is two separate voices. (How else could that Db both be a half note and be struck again after an eighth beat, and how else could you play both a half note and an eighth rest?) In such cases pedalling that first chord is probably the way to go, especially in Clair de Lune. Note that your right thumb could theoretically grab the middle Db, leaving a span of 12 keys for your left hand, but there's no reason to do this. Commented Sep 12, 2018 at 11:58
  • Good points, the answer was simpler than I thought. I'd happily accept this answer if I could, thanks Commented Sep 12, 2018 at 12:11

1 Answer 1


As user LukeSawczak wrote in a comment: The left hand plays separate voices.

The upper voice consists of:

  • an eighth/quaver rest (= 1/8)
  • a quarter note/crotchet (= 2/8)
  • a dotted half note/minim (= (6/8)

which nicely sums up to 9/8.

The lower voice starts with a dotted half note (=6/8) and actually the remaining 3/8 are missing. I would have expected a dotted quarter rest here, but maybe that was skipped on purpose (it's the same in the next bar).

As you've noticed already, it is not possible to reach all notes of both voices at the same time. Therefore, you can pedal the first cord of the lower voice and then change fingering to play the chord of the upper voice.

  • 1
    FWIW, I think it's not abnormal for voice 2 to omit any rests after the last note. Commented Sep 13, 2018 at 18:32

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