Articulation (music)

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Examples of articulations. From left to right: staccato, staccatissimo, martellato, marcato, tenuto.
Articulations from legato to staccatissimo. About this sound Legato , About this sound Portato , About this sound Staccato , About this sound Staccatissimo 

In music, articulation refers to the musical performance technique that affects the transition or continuity on a single note, or between multiple notes or sounds.

Types of articulations[edit]

There are many types of articulation, each with a different effect on how the note is played. In music notation articulation marks include the slur, phrase mark, staccato, staccatissimo, accent, sforzando, rinforzando, and legato. A different symbol, placed above or below the note (depending on its position on the staff), represents each articulation.

Tenuto Hold the note in question its full length (or longer, with slight rubato), or play the note slightly louder.
Marcato Indicates a short note, long chord, or medium passage to be played louder or more forcefully than surrounding music.
Staccato Signifies a note of shortened duration
Legato Indicates musical notes are to be played or sung smoothly and connected.

Procedure[edit]

Brass and woodwind instruments[edit]

Woodwind and brass instruments generally produce articulations by tonguing, the use of the tongue to break the airflow into the instrument.

Certain palate cues can help student musicians master articulations. For example, the syllable "dah" is demonstrates the correct placement of the tongue to articulate notes. In most cases, using the near tip of the tongue, as in the syllable "dah," is the preferred articulation. However, different articulation markings require different tongue placement. Smooth, connected passages may require an articulation more reminiscent of the syllable "la," while heavy, sharp notes may be attacked with an articulation similar to "tah."

Furthermore, the implementation of double-tonguing may be required when many articulations are required in rapid succession. Double-tonguing can be simulated by repeating the syllables "dig" and "guh" in rapid succession. Other syllables for double tonguing are "tuh" and "kuh," "tih" and "kuh," and any other combination of syllables that utilize the tip of the tongue behind the front teeth and then the back of the tongue against the back of the mouth. Double-tonguing is an articulation primarily used by brass players, however, the use of double-tonguing by woodwind players is becoming more common.

A third, rare form of articulation for wind players is "doodle tonguing." The name of this articulation comes from the sound, doodle, one would make if she were to sound her voice while performing the articulation. Doodle-tonguing is achieved by moving the tip of the tongue up and down quickly to block the air stream momentarily on the way up, and again on the way down.

Bowed instruments[edit]

Bowed stringed instruments use different bowing techniques to achieve different articulations. One of these techniques is pizzicato.

Compound articulations[edit]

Occasionally, articulations can be combined to create stylistically or technically correct sounds. For example, when staccato marks are combined with a slur, the result is portato, also known as articulated legato. Tenuto markings under a slur are called (for bowed strings) hook bows. This name is also less commonly applied to staccato or martellato (martelé) markings.

Apagados[edit]

Apagados (from the Spanish verb apagar, "to mute") refers to notes that are played dampened or "muted," without sustain. The term is written above or below the notes with a dotted or dashed line drawn to the end of the group of notes that are to be played dampened. The technique is chiefly written for bowed or plucked instruments. Modernists refer to the apogado as "palm mute." On the guitar, the musician dampens the strings with the palm of the hand and plucks with the thumb. Strictly speaking, the term dampened is correct for this effect in music; since to mute means to silence. Illustration of the apagados may be found in the work of composer for Spanish guitar, Gerardo de Altona. See: http://www.mednetconnection.com/18051/18020.html

See also[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

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