Gustav Mahler's 8th symphony violins 2

Why is there a half note and quarter notes that use the same stem? How to play it on a violin? and What's it called? Thank you.

  • Do you have a more zoomed out picture? My initial reaction is that it's written incorrectly but it's hard to tell without a bigger context
    – nivlac
    Feb 9, 2019 at 13:10
  • 1
    such notation sometimes is the out put of a notation program. It would be interesting to know the context, where this sheet music comes from ... Feb 9, 2019 at 14:22
  • @nivlac this is the best resolution within 2 mb limit.. Feb 9, 2019 at 15:24
  • He wasn't asking for higher resolution, just a picture of MORE of the score.
    – Laurence
    Feb 9, 2019 at 20:06
  • 1
    It's clear to violinists!
    – Laurence
    Feb 9, 2019 at 23:48

2 Answers 2


You've tagged the question 'violin'. So I guess this is violin music.

Think of the mechanics of a violin, the way the strings are supported by the curved top of the bridge. Mostly, the player wants to bow just one string without touching the others, the curvature enables this. He can bow two strings at once if he wishes. But not three.

This notation asks for the common gesture where the lower notes are played briefly and left to ring, the upper note is then played normally.

(For the sake of completeness, I should mention that fully bowed triple stops CAN be achieved in certain circumstances.)

  • 1
    it's from symphony no. 8 from Mahler this appear in both Violin 1 and violin 2 parts Feb 9, 2019 at 15:25
  • I printed from the website that said to be Original, I don't know Feb 9, 2019 at 15:27
  • Laurence is right. There are similar notations in several sections (fifth and tenth intervals) Feb 9, 2019 at 19:43

Why is there a half note and quarter notes that use the same stem?

The composer wants you to come as close as possible to playing three notes at the same time.

What's it called?

It is called a "chord" because there are more than two notes. Two notes played simultaneously would be called a "double stop".

How to play it on a violin?

The two quarter notes are A and E which conveniently you can play as the two adjacent open strings. The half note is a C which you would play as a third finger in third position on the E string so that at the end you can put down your first finger on the E to play the slurred A.

To play this you would start with your bow on both the A and E strings playing the A and the E as a double stop, then put your third finger down so you are playing the A and the C as a double stop, then adjust the angle of the bow slightly to come off the A string and complete on just the C on the E string.

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