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How should the two As be played with the left hand? Why is the second A even necessary?

  • this are 4 different voicis the tenor keeps, the bass steps down in quarters. This can't be played otherwise as it is written - or as phoog explains it. Sep 14, 2019 at 20:39
  • 1
    This is not a duplicate. The other question concerns two notes with the same pitch and same duration in different staves. This concerns two notes with the same pitch and different durations in the same staff.
    – phoog
    Sep 17, 2019 at 14:15
  • I agree the linked duplicate is not an answer, but we do have many questions that address this on the site and have added two actual duplicates.
    – Dom
    Sep 18, 2019 at 14:56
  • it seems someone edited the title to make it seem like more of a duplicate... Sep 18, 2019 at 18:20

1 Answer 1


The two As are there to indicate that the left hand is playing two (logical) voices. One has an A half note while the other has a A quarter note followed by a G quarter note.

In keyboard terms, this means that you play an A on the third beat and, without releasing the A, a G on the fourth beat. Release both notes at the end of the measure.

If you look at the entire measure, the two voices are of course even clearer. If the lower voice had a rest on the third beat, you would play this on a keyboard in essentially the same way. But if you were transcribing this for four instruments, the result would be noticeably different.

Conversely, if this is a keyboard reduction of a piece composed for an ensemble of singers or instruments, it would be helpful to retain the information that the bass part has a quarter note there, not a rest.

  • How do we know the first a is from upper voice? Sep 14, 2019 at 20:22
  • 5
    @TylerDurden by convention, when two voices are written on the same staff, the stems for the upper voice point up, and those for the lower voice point down.
    – phoog
    Sep 14, 2019 at 20:35
  • Interesting. Does this mean the first two notes in the treble are different voices? If not, how do we tell which voice is which? Sep 14, 2019 at 21:21
  • 2
    @TylerDurden yes, the example is in four voices throughout, with two in the right hand and two in the left hand. If we call them soprano, alto, tenor, and bass, the soprano notes are in the upper staff with upward-pointing stems. The alto is in the upper staff with downward stems, the tenor is in the lower staff with upward stems, and the bass is in the lower staff with downward stems.
    – phoog
    Sep 14, 2019 at 21:28

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