I was wondering what do you call these numbers (7, 10,13, 15 and so on)found at the start of each measure? And how do you read them? enter image description here

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    Mozart Piano Sonata No.16, K. 545, 1st Movement? Mar 9, 2020 at 12:52

3 Answers 3


I'm afraid the numbers above bars are just called... "bar numbers". They serve as an index so that you can communicate about places in a score when there is no opportunity to point to them. For instance, a scholar would write that the development section begins "in bar 156", or a conductor would instruct the orchestra players "We'll take it from bar 135". (In practice, for orchestral scores you'd give section numbers instead, since the bar numbers in symphonic scores get rather high.)

  • @RishiNandha_M - please don't add lots of comments saying the same thing. That makes it much harder to read. Just raise a flag.
    – Doktor Mayhem
    Mar 10, 2020 at 8:48
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    – Doktor Mayhem
    Mar 10, 2020 at 8:49
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    I find that bar numbers get used quite often in rehearsals, because rehearsal letters often differ between editions, and it's fairly common for orchestral parts not to be from a single source, or (in choral works) to be from different source(s) to the reduced edition the choir is using. Editions tend not to differ about bar numbering, since if there are different numbers of bars in different parts you have a bigger problem than where to start in rehearsal! Still a great answer though, +1 from me.
    – MadHatter
    Mar 11, 2020 at 12:08

This are bar numbers, one possibility of orientation for rehearsals. (Sometimes as here they are written at the beginning of each line, sometimes in regular distance as every multiple of 5 or 10.)

Other possibilities are rehearsal marks (see this related question), either big capitals (starting with A, mostly I is omitted in favour of J) or numbers (starting from one) in a circle or a box at distinct positions, as key signature change, or in appropriate distance.


„measure (bar) 3“ (... 7 ... 13...)

We use the bar numbers for orientation: e.g. analysis: The primary theme of the Sonata (bar 1), the modulation transition (bar 13), the secondary theme (bar 14)

"Let's start with the transition at measure 13!"


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