In music, articulation is the direction or performance technique which affects the transition or continuity on a single note or between multiple notes or sounds. Articulation involves subtle differences within duration, amplitude, meter, and, through techniques such as tremolo and pitch.
Types of articulations
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 or detached (not legato)|
|Legato||Indicates musical notes are to be played or sung smoothly and connected.|
Brass and woodwind instruments
Certain palate cues can help student musicians master articulations. For example, the syllable "dah" demonstrates one placement of the tongue to articulate notes. In most cases, using the near tip of the tongue, is the best way of 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, but 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.
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 (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' (slightly different spelling) 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: https://web.archive.org/web/20110714065232/http://www.mednetconnection.com/18051/18020.html