I was looking at the score for Arnold Schoenberg's Pierrot lunaire (On Youtube), and on the voice staff none of the notes are connected with each other and they have this x or * on their stem:

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What do these symbols mean?

At the beginning of the piece, instead of soprano, it says Rezitation (Recitation), does this have anything to do with the x's?

2 Answers 2


I just googled Sprechstimme

According to Encyclopaedia Britannica it's a cross between speaking and singing in which the tone quality of speech is heightened and lowered in pitch along melodic contours indicated in the musical notation.

Its introduction is especially associated with the composer Arnold Schoenberg, who first used it in his Pierrot Lunaire (1912).


One other note:

Sprechstimme (a style Schoenberg invented, and indicated with the crossed notes) is derived from the older technique of recitativo, a sort of half-singing half-speaking style used for conversations in opera (mostly when the composer didn't want to interrupt the music by switching to actual speaking).

Sprechstimme is somewhat freer, and doesn't try to hit exact notes; instead, it's focused on the contours. But Schoenberg still labelled his sprechstimme pieces as Rezitation: the German form of recitativo. That word at the beginning of the piece is another indication that he wants sprechstimme there.

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