sheet-music excerpt showing a small diagonal slash through the upper staff line between two notes

The slash mark is shown multiple times in the piece, and it’s not just shown on the top line. The slash goes between notes and on any of the staff lines. I just want to know what it signifies.

  • Please post the name & composer so that we can compare other scores. Jun 27, 2019 at 12:58

1 Answer 1


It's a tiny caesura, often a breath mark. With bowing instructions penciled in, it wouldn't be a breath instruction even though the violinist apparently is considered to be able to catch enough of a breath to figure out whether they are bowing in the wrong direction: the immediately following note has an "upbow" instruction on it.

  • 1
    Wikipedia shows the caesura as two slashed lines. Is there anything special about this one-line version? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caesura Jun 27, 2019 at 0:21
  • @YourUncleBob - the Wikipedia entry also says "It may be a comma, a tick, or two lines, either slashed (//) or upright (||)". But there is a difference: a caesura is a pause, a temporary halt in the rhythm, and a breath mark (which is typically shaped like a comma) doesn't change the rhythm - you take a breath between the notes, but the next note comes in at the same time as it would if no mark was present.
    – Tom Serb
    Jun 27, 2019 at 1:26
  • @TomSerb Are you saying this one-line version is actually more like a breath mark, and not a caesura? Jun 27, 2019 at 1:29
  • @YourUncleBob - it's really difficult to say from just a fraction of a measure here. There's a ritardando, and they are often followed by a fermata and/or caesura, but I don't see an "a tempo" instruction. I think it was probably handwritten - it's thicker than the stems, and about the same thickness as the bowing marks. Tick marks for caesura are pretty rare in printed scores - so I'm guessing the same player that added the bow marks put it in as a reminder for some instruction from the conductor (which means it's would probably be a caesura). But I'm not 100% sure.
    – Tom Serb
    Jun 27, 2019 at 3:03
  • I agree that it's most likely a breath-mark, but it'd be much easier to be sure if we could examine the full score. Let's see if the OP gives us more info Jun 27, 2019 at 12:58

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