from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Cue notes in an orchestral part: first measure with memo text in a polyphonically divided system. Above: Key text (only thrown upwards), below: Whole bar pause in large print. Second bar: the actual text of the voice in large print

Cue notes (English: cue notes) in the music score are notes in the booklet of voices or sheet for an instrument or a singer, which are not normally carried out from this. They serve as a temporal orientation for the use based on the most conspicuous part of another instrument , similar to a keyword in spoken theater.

Exceptions in which cue notes are to be played by the instrument are mentioned below.


Cue notes are printed smaller than the text to be played in the voice or are differentiated from it by other information such as the English word "cue". As a rule, they are provided with information about which other instrument is playing the "stitch motif" so that, depending on the orchestra setup, attention can be paid to a certain timbre and direction.

Cue notes are compared to the actual instrument part like another, polyphonic part in the same line, i.e. either just up or down. The actual instrument part contains corresponding pauses in large engravings (see illustration).


Cue notes are required, for example, when an instrument has nothing to play for many bars, or when bar counting would be difficult because a solo in another voice is usually played with rubato . The player reads the stitch motif beforehand and waits until the motif is to be expected (multi-measure pauses in his book of parts give him a certain idea of ​​the waiting time). If he perceives the stitch motif at the expected point in time, he gets ready for his mission. When it comes to orchestral music, however, he also expects a direct hint from the conductor (also referred to as an engagement).

In the case of instruments with a rather sparse text, such as some percussion instruments , some pages in the part book may only contain cue notes, interspersed with multi-measure rests.

In orchestral scores, engraving motifs are chosen on the one hand so that they are as conspicuous as possible (motifs with a signal character), on the other hand so that they are played by instruments that are as close as possible to the performer in the seating arrangement. For example, timpani are given cue notes from brass players as much as possible, as these can be heard closer, i.e. more directly, than the woodwinds or string section , which sits further ahead. Meaningful cue notes require the copyist to have considerable orchestral experience.

Cue notes to be played

In the case of variable arrangements in salon music or in historical radio music intended for recording , the cue notes can be used, for example, if the relevant instruments are missing: In a first wind part, important passages of the second wind part can be given in cue notes in order to execute them in this case to be able to.

Different orchestral line-ups often play the same arrangement from the same orchestral parts in these musical genres, which is made possible by piano reductions or a violin . Piano reductions and director's parts often contain cue notes that can be played on the instructions of the conductor or, in the case of smaller ensembles, on the individual responsibility of the musicians. Often, for example, melody voices are only performed by instruments when there is no singing voice.

This practice is still common in orchestral recordings of film music , where several instrumental possibilities are often tried out in the recording sessions.

Old prints

In older music prints, a cue note at the end of the line that corresponds to the first note in the new line and is intended to make it easier to read the line break is called a custos .

With neumes in square notation , the last note of a liquescent is set as the cue note.

Individual evidence

  1. Heribert Schröder: Dance and light music in Germany 1918–1933 (= Orpheus series of publications on basic questions in music. 58). Publishing house for systematic musicology, Bonn 1990, ISBN 3-922626-58-0 , p. 21.