I started to play this piece today, & I came across this symbol (wavy arrow pointing downwards in treble clef). I have never seen it before in any piece, nor did I read about it in music theory so far. What does it mean?

enter image description here

I am assuming it could mean to play the notes of the chord like an arpeggio, but instead of starting from the lowest note, you start from the highest note (i.e. G in the 5th space), then play D & G (2nd line). Is my guess correct?

  • 4
    That's right, it's a reverse arpeggio. The mark is more common in music for guitar and string instruments. May 2, 2019 at 12:48
  • 2
    @ Kilian Foth: If one will poste your comment as an answer this question this would be a "Grace note" ;) May 2, 2019 at 13:39
  • Oh wow, I didn't know that @KilianFoth. Something new to learn!
    – Grace
    May 2, 2019 at 14:28
  • 1
    Hahahaha good one @AlbrechtHügli! 😁
    – Grace
    May 2, 2019 at 14:28

1 Answer 1


The symbol indicates the chord should be played as a descending arpeggio. Standard convention is to go from low to high, so when the composer wants to go the opposite way, it needs to be clarified.

  • 5
    There's also the similar upward wavy arrow for an arpeggio that must go up. I remember transcribing a video game theme that had arpeggiated piano chords and not all of them were arpeggiated the same way, so I put arrows on all the arpeggio markings.
    – Dekkadeci
    May 2, 2019 at 15:26
  • 1
    Sure, you can go the other way as well, and would actually be especially helpful / clear if the music is constantly changing directions. May 2, 2019 at 15:58
  • 3
    @Dekkadeci I think (not 100% sure) that the default, if no arrowhead, is to arpeggiate upwards. May 3, 2019 at 11:52

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.