In Carcassi's Arpeggio exercises (for guitar) there are passages like this:

enter image description here

Do these half notes are connected with eighth notes? What does the half notes with flag means?

BTW, how to include these in abc notation?

  • What is abc notation?
    – user50691
    Aug 15, 2019 at 18:57
  • 4
    @ggcg a popular music notation format, also available in this site, you can have a look at ABCjs integration now available, abcnotation.com and abcjs.net
    – marcanuy
    Aug 15, 2019 at 19:18
  • For future reference, please indicate the instrument in question. Some markings have different meanings for different instrument groups; many other markings are specific to one group or particular instrument. Aug 16, 2019 at 17:09

4 Answers 4


There are no half notes with flags here. Notationally, there are two voices. The lower voice is moving in half notes. The half notes have downward-pointed stems to indicate that they belong to the lower voice, but these are somewhat hard to notice because of the X marks. These half-note stems have no flags.

The upper voice is notated in eighth note implied triplets, with the first of each group of six notes in unison with the coinciding half note. The note head is therefore elided.

  • What actually are the X marks, then? Dec 27, 2023 at 13:33

In addition to the existing answers, I would just add that in abcjs you can use !style=x! to change the note head. I normally create a shortcut, with k being the most similar to x. You can also use the chord marks to draw the notes together.

In the header:

U: k = !style=x!

Usage in the body:

kB, | [kB,C]4 |]

results in

X: 1
M: C
U: k = !style=x!
K: C
kB, | [kB,C]4 |]

Note that this chord syntax will work with newer versions of abcjs. Try it here, for example.

As for the duration, I'm not sure the half-notes will link to 8th-notes. It is possible when done on paper but not in a notation standardized on a computer. :) Besides, I think the X-head note is an eight-note while the half-note is separate.


They are arpeggios, and the minims (2 beat notes/half notes) are a sort of accompaniment, being played and kept hold of, so they continue to sound, until the next one gets played.

It's common to actually hold down the whole chord (all the notes involved) and play them so they all continue to ring out. Normally, each would be stopped in time to play the next, which is technically how they're written, but the pieces sound better and more cohesive when it all blends together.

So - the first bar would hold an open C chord, while the second would be an open G7 chord.

Since there are dots (. .. ...) under the other notes, indicating index(.) middle (..) and ring (...) fingers of picking hand, I guess the (x) will indicate thumb - which is what most people would use for a bass note - on lower strings - anyway.

  • Isn't that implied by the duration of the note? What is the need for the flag, or x underneath?
    – user50691
    Aug 15, 2019 at 17:06
  • 1
    @ggcg in this context, the x underneath means that the above note should be played with thumb, a .: first finger, ..: second finger, etc.
    – marcanuy
    Aug 15, 2019 at 17:31
  • I have never seen that fingering system before. Then again, I am a pianist, but even for stringed instruments I am used to seeing something like this: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 and for piano, this: 1 2 3 4 5
    – Caters
    Aug 15, 2019 at 18:06
  • @Caters, there are different fingering notations for each hand since they are involved in playing the exact same note. The left (or fretting hand) uses (1, 2, 3, 4) and the right (picking hand) (p, i, m, a) or (+, . , .. , ...)
    – user50691
    Aug 15, 2019 at 18:52
  • @marcanuy, thanks for the comment. I think you are correct. However I just looked at Carcassi Method book and thumb is notated (+) rather than (x). I would have expected consistency from one author.
    – user50691
    Aug 15, 2019 at 18:53

This is also another way to write down the score. The half notes can be written side to side with the eighth note. enter image description here

(created in Noteflight)

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