This is a picture from my sheet for Chopin's Nocturne in F minor, Op. 55, No. 1. I don't understand what the number next to this note means.

Sheet music with 3 next to note

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    And - how to play a staccato note and pedal it?
    – Tim
    Commented Mar 26, 2020 at 11:14
  • Hi, please post the edition you are working with. That is very helpful to people trying to answer. Commented Mar 26, 2020 at 13:40
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    @Tim Not a pianist but my recall is the staccato indicates how to strike the note, i.e. hit and release the key fast, which produces slightly different overtone than whacking the hammer down as though you were holding the key down, pedal or not. Commented Mar 26, 2020 at 13:43
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    @CarlWitthoft - I've often wondered about staccato with pedal - a whole grade V piece in ABRSM had those markings, and no-one from there could tell me exactly what the student should do. I'll try your idea later.
    – Tim
    Commented Mar 26, 2020 at 13:57
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    @Tim maybe this music.stackexchange.com/questions/4048/… Commented Mar 26, 2020 at 15:17

1 Answer 1


It's just a fingering. It shows you that you need to play C with the 3rd finger and thus Ab* with the 1st one. You'd also play the low F with your pinky (5th finger).

It's quite common to include the fingerings in pieces; it's a way to help the player. Usually, you'd find the numbers on top of the note.From the link I'm providing below, you can see that:

enter image description here

The author here mentions fingerings in different parts and above the notes, but the logic of it is the same. Also, from this extract of the piece you can see that there is nothing fishy going on before or after the part you asked about (5th bar in my pic) and that it's simply a fingering.

* I'm saying Ab, because the piece is in F minor

  • This is most likely right, but it's odd to have finger numbers in a space. Usually, as in your example, on top or underneath. And surely a player could work that fingering out for himself?!
    – Tim
    Commented Mar 26, 2020 at 14:02
  • @Tim true, as I mentioned in my second paragraph. It doesn't seem to be like something else, since it makes sense to finger it like that. My guess is that this was from a poorly written/edited edition Commented Mar 26, 2020 at 14:39
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    @Tim I'm saying it's a fingering, too, despite its unusual location, because 1) It isn't anything else that makes sense, 2) it's the finger I would use for that note, and 3) there isn't a lot of room below the note because of the pedal marking. As for working the fingering out for oneself, I'm reminded of George Carlin's maxim that every driver is either crazy or an idiot, depending on whether he's driving faster or slower than you are. Fingerings are either obvious or something nobody in his right mind would use! I find examples of both in the above passage.
    – BobRodes
    Commented Mar 27, 2020 at 2:41
  • @BobRodes - I agree that it's most likely a fingering number. It's just odd to put it in the space, when there's room for it in the normal place. Had it been on a line, it would look even odder. Fingerings - well, there's often few options, and in any case, with different physiology, one person's fingering is another's nghtmare! I like the driving analogy. True, when I'm on the road, there are few normal drivers ever to be seen...
    – Tim
    Commented Mar 27, 2020 at 6:57
  • @Tim, it is a bit odd, indeed. My speculation is that there really isn't room to put it in the normal place, because with the pedal release marking there it would get a bit crowded.
    – BobRodes
    Commented Mar 27, 2020 at 7:19

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