I found this symbol under this link in the piece "Geistliche Chormusik" Nr. 22 of Heinrich Schütz. I have highlighted the symbol in the middle voice where it appears twice.

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    Also known as "Double Whole-Note" for non breve/semibreve/quaver/.... hemidemisemisimesemisemiquaver name users :-) Apr 9, 2020 at 14:08
  • Either the bass line rests are wacked or that dotted-half should just be a half? or does it span across to the next measure? This is horrible typesetting Apr 9, 2020 at 14:11
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    @CarlWitthoft: Take a look at wikipedia. Mensurstrich is a different convention from bar lines, and this score is fully compliant with the former.
    – guidot
    Apr 9, 2020 at 14:28
  • @guidot Cool! I love it when I learn something new. (even tho' I will never ever sing myself) Apr 9, 2020 at 18:29

1 Answer 1


The highlighted symbols are breve noteheads.

Each lasts for eight beats - twice as long as a four-beat semibreve.

And they have pitch. In your example, the lower voice on the middle stave plays an E natural breve followed by a D semibreve. The upper voice has crotchet rest, G sharp minim, G sharp crotchet then an A natural breve.

  • Correct, except that something strange is going on in this particular edition of the score since the notes seem to only be four beats long. Perhaps this edition is showing both the older style notation alongside the modern notation? Apr 9, 2020 at 12:16
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    @PatMuchmore: Why? The first semibreve is for bars 35/36 in the lower voice (followed by the whole d) and the second one for bar 36/37 in the upper voice of the middle system.
    – guidot
    Apr 9, 2020 at 13:59
  • I agree that this is poor notation -- normally you would never write a single notehead which lasts more than a measure. You wouldn't use, e.g., a whole note to span two measures of 2/4 time. Apr 9, 2020 at 14:09
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    So the E breve in the first measure is still happening when the A breve enters? I see, then the A holds while the E breve moves to the D. Not how it would be done in modern notation, but that’s why the wrote the bar lines differently I guess. Apr 9, 2020 at 14:34
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    @PatMuchmore: as noted in a new comment on the question, these are Mensurstriche lines. Early music often didn't use barlines, and introducing them can significantly alter the original sense of the notation. For one example, a syncopated version of fugal imitation might look completely different in modern notation (with lots of ties, different rhythms), but all iterations of the subject in the original notation might have looked precisely the same. Mensurstriche are guideposts for modern performers to make the original notation it a bit easier to read (often found in critical editions).
    – Athanasius
    Apr 11, 2020 at 17:29

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