In Schubert's "Nachthelle", for tenor solo and male chorus, there is a section in the soloist's melodic line that have, apparently, divisi (upper melodic line, in the photo). Why? Is of soloist's choice to sing one way or another? Below is a shapshot of that section. Thanks.

P.S. Please someone creates "divisi" tag.

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Edited: here is the link of the original file (public domain), in the IMSLP: link here

  • I checked the link. The PDF it leads to is no help. It seems to be taken from a book--I wonder whether the beginning or ending of that book has an explanation for those extra notes.
    – Dekkadeci
    Commented Nov 23, 2018 at 6:37
  • No less a piece than Beethoven's Ninth has such an ossia right at its most dramatic moment, where the Baritone Soloist comes in with "O Freu - - nde, nicht die - se Töne!" You can find it on page 12 of this on-line score. I think that nowadays no singer would be foolhardy enough to choose the lower voice...
    – TonyK
    Commented Nov 23, 2018 at 14:43

1 Answer 1


I wouldn’t call it divisi unless two instruments were playing it. Without seeing more of the piece, my first guess is that you’re right and the lower pitch version is for singers that don’t feel comfortable with the high Bb.

Another possibility is only if this section is repeated. It’s possible that the singer is supposed to sing it one way the first time and the other way on the repeat.

A third possibility is that versions of the score are inconsistent at this part, and the editor decided to notate both versions for editorial completeness (this is especially likely if it’s a critical edition).

In any of these cases though, I would usually expect a bit more explanation, such as, in the first possibility, the word “ossia.” As written, it’s definitely more mysterious than it needs to be. I’d look around and see if there’s an editorial explanation in the preface, or an explanatory footnote, or something like that.

  • 2
    In this context it's definitely an ossia to avoid an extreme high, since the Bb is out of reach of many male voices who might be called upon to perform this piece. But I agree that it should be notated much more explicitly. As it is we don't even know whether this is editoral discretion or originally allowed by Schubert. Commented Nov 23, 2018 at 11:10

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