What are Double Stemmed Notes?

Piano Lessons / general / What are Double Stemmed Notes?

I just recently received this question from a viewer and I thought it would be a good thing to address. If you play piano – or other polyphonic instruments – you probably have seen these before:

If you’re a singer or you play the flute, clarinet, trumpet, or perform another monophonic instrument you may have never seen these before in your notation.

These notes typically only occur in polyphonic writing. For example, on the piano you have multiple parts and sometimes you will have two different parts that play the same note. Imagine for example if there was a choir and there was the same note being sung between both the altos and the sopranos. Instead of writing the note twice, it would be easier to write the note on the same line and just add a line going up for the soprano and down for the alto.

Sometimes you might even see double stem notes for different rhythms. You might have a half note and a quarter note on the same note. This might sound confusing and it can be but it’s best to break down the music and understand how it is supposed to sound.

Hopefully this clears up the mystery for some of you out there! Thanks again for joining me Robert Estrin Robert@LivingPianos.com

One thought on “What are Double Stemmed Notes?”


  1. It would have been helpful if Robert specifically either played the notes that were highlighted – or explained them.
    I still don’t understand how that musical notation that accompanied this ‘double stemmed notes’ e-mail would sound like.
    Seeing is believing I guess.

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