This is an instruction that you might see in violin music. I normally pronounce Italian musical terms as accurately as my linguistic skills allow. For example, I would pronounce the "c" in "sul ponticello" rather like an English "ch".

The problem with "sul G" is not just how to pronounce the name of the letter G in Italian but that Italian would normally refer to the note as "sol" rather than "G".

So, I am left puzzled as to how to pronounce "sul G".

Additional information

"Sul G" is an instruction to play on the G string: Artopium's Music Dictionary.


In Italy we usually refer to the names of the notes using the solmisation Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Si (the Ti name as a variant for Si is very uncommon in Italy). Jazz musicians probably are more accustomed to the letter names for notes than, say, folk singers or classical musicians, and may use both standards. When it comes to violin and you want to refer to the fact of playing on the G string (I guess that's what the instruction means, i could be wrong), I think an Italian would probably say "sul sol".


Your confusion is totally understandable, and I'd note that it can get even worse! For example, if I want to refer to Do/C, and pronounce it as C, it sounds just like the Italian note Si/B.

Unfortunately, I don't think there's a real rule on how to behave in this case: the existence of things like "sul G" is due to the fact that Italian is the language of classical musical annotations, but the letter-names A, B, C etc are way more common worldwide, so we ended up with this chimaera of sort.

After re-reading your question I can see that you were also interested in how to actually pronounce those terms. For both cases, I'd say something like this

"Sul G" is a bit like english "sool gee", while "Sul sol" would be something like "sool sol" where the last 'o' is quite open. Using IPA we can give more precise descriptions: those would be, in my opinion (and according to my accent) [sul dʒi] and [sul sɔl] respectively.

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  • Yes, I would be tempted to say "sul sol" and if I were to write it then I would probably write that but it seems a bit odd to say "sul sol" when "sul G" is written. – badjohn Jan 11 at 14:26
  • @badjohn I see your point. I edited adding some considerations. – Panourgos Demopoulos Jan 11 at 14:45
  • Thanks again. Your assumption of the meaning is correct. I added that to my question. I can see the C / Si confusion which is along the lines of the B confusion between English and German. Care is needed. – badjohn Jan 11 at 14:58
  • There is no C string on the violin but there is on a viola or cello. So, saying "sul C" could be confusing to an Italian who might respond: "Non esiste una stringa Si". – badjohn Jan 11 at 15:01
  • Thanks for the extra detail. My question was quite so detailed as to need IPA though that is appreciated. It was more whether I should say G or sol and if G then English or Italian style. – badjohn Jan 11 at 19:01

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