Portato ([porˈtaːto]; Italian past participle of portare, "to carry"), also mezzo-staccato, French notes portées (Anon. n.d.),[not in citation given] in music denotes a smooth, pulsing articulation and is often notated by adding dots under slur markings.
Portato is also known as articulated legato (Blood 2012).
Portato is a bowing technique for stringed instruments (Anon. 2001), in which successive notes are gently re-articulated while being joined under a single continuing bow stroke. It achieves a kind of pulsation or undulation, rather than separating the notes. It has been notated in various ways. One early 19th-century writer, Pierre Baillot (L’art du violon, Paris, 1834), gives two alternatives: a wavy line, and dots under a slur. Later in the century a third method became common: placing "legato" dashes (tenuto) under a slur (Wall 2001a). The notation with dots under slurs is ambiguous, because it is also used for very different bowings, including staccato and flying spiccato (Walls 2001a; Walls 2001b).
Currently, portato is sometimes indicated in words, by "mezzo-staccato" or "non-legato"; or can be shown by three graphic forms:
- a slur that encompasses a phrase of staccato notes (the most common), or
- a tenuto above a staccato mark (very often), or
- a slur that encompasses a phrase of tenuto notes (less common) (Tsai 2008).
- Anon. n.d. "Notes portées" (redirect). Grove Music Online, edited by Deane Root. Oxford Music Online (accessed 5 June 2016).(subscription required)[verification needed]
- Anon. 2001. "Portato". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.
- Blood, Brian. 2012. "Music Theory Online: Lesson 21: Phrasing & Articulation". Dolmetsch Organisation (Accessed 19 December 2012).
- Kennedy, Michael. 1994. "Portato". The Oxford Dictionary of Music, second edition, revised. Associate editor, Joyce Bourn. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-869162-9.
- Tsai, Chia-Fen. 2008. "Articulation". The "Thirty Caprices" of Sigfrid Karg-Elert: A Comprehensive Study. AAT 3325459.[full citation needed] ISBN 9780549808930.
- Walls, Peter. 2001a. "Bow, §II, 3. Bowstrokes after c1780, (iii) Portato". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.
- Walls, Peter. 2001b. "Bow, §II, 3. Bowstrokes after c1780, (vi) Staccato". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.