French Term Main Gauche in Piano Sheet Music

Notation for Pianist to Switch Hands

In piano sheet music, the French words main gauche or "m.g." appears to indicate that the person playing the music should use their left hand to play a section rather than their right hand. This notation can occur on the treble or bass staff.

Main Gauche Defined

In French, the word main means "hand," and the word gauche means "left." In sheet music written by Italian composers, similarly, the composers would write mano sinistra in Italian to mean "left hand."

German and English composers may use the letters, l.H. or l.h., meaning linke Hand for "left hand."

Main Gauche Applied

The left hand is typically used to play music from the bass clef and the right hand is used to play music on the treble clef. A pianist might see a notation of "m.g." appear on the treble clef staff to indicate to the player to crossover the right hand to play the notes on the treble clef. 

Subsequently, the pianist may see the "m.g." notation reappear on the bass clef which indicates to the player that the hands can return to the original positioning.

What About the Right Hand?

Similarly, the composer may have notes for the pianist to use the right hand in order to play a certain passage, for example, on the bass clef. The term for "right hand" in French is main droite (m.d.), in Italian it is mano destra, and in German it is rechte Hand.