Talk:Staccato

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Request[edit]

Could somebody perhaps trim the bottom musical staff off this image if they have nothing better to do? It doesn't help to define what staccato is, and it isn't even barred to the top staff, so it could be rather confusing (people might think you can only have staccato if you have broken octaves going on as well...). I'd do it myself if I could - thanks to anybody who does do it. --Camembert

Done.--AstroNomer 00:33 Sep 10, 2002 (UTC)

Any chance of recording it and uploading a sound file for those of us that don't read music? --Brion 03:40 Sep 10, 2002 (UTC)

Four months after you requested it, I've finally done it (I've done one with staccato, and one without, for comparison's sake). Hope it's OK. --Camembert

Definition of "staccato"[edit]

Calling staccato short is misleading. The notes are not necessarily short, but are detached from the ones around them. Staccato is also highly dependent on the period of the work (for example, classical staccato is going to be much longer than modern staccato). Still, most young musicians see dots and assume that the notes are supposed to be very short, but this is actually very rarely the case. Promacuser (talk) 17:16, 18 November 2009 (UTC)

Furthermore, this article doesn't really cite any references at all. I'll attempt to fix that, but who says that staccato first showed up in 1724? Promacuser (talk) 17:18, 18 November 2009 (UTC)

This seems to me rather like maintaining that because tempo is Italian for time we should not be allowed to note that to a musician ("young", old, or middle-aged) it refers to the pace of a piece. Certainly pace has quite a bit to do with time, but a musical article about tempo that defined it as "time" and left it at that would very unhelpful. Just so, a staccato dot in modern notation really does indicate that a note should be shortened, although staccato is Italian for detached and shortened notes are certainly detached from notes immediately following--where notes do immediately follow, that is: a staccato dot below or above a note followed by a rest is not uncommon.
1) Willi Apel, Harvard Dictionary of Music, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1960, p. 708: "Staccato [It., detached] A manner of performance indicated by a dot or the sign [thin closed vertical wedge] placed over the note, calling for a reduction of its written duration with a rest substituted for half or more of its value."
2) Michael Kennedy, ed., The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music, third edition, Oxford University Press, Oxford and New York, 1980, p. 617: "Staccato (It.) Detached. Method of playing a note (shown by a dot over the note) so that it is shortened--and thus 'detached' from its successor--by being held for less than its full value. Superlative is staccatissimo. The various signs used to indicate degrees of staccato are: MEZZO-STACCATO (shorten the note by about 1/4) [staccato dots above slur shown], STACCATO (shorten the notes by about 1/2) [staccato dots shown], [and] STACCATISSIMO (shorten the notes by about 3/4) [staccatissimo wedge shown]."TheScotch (talk) 04:39, 27 September 2011 (UTC)

Two musical sources (culled more at less at random):

1) Walter Piston, Quintet for Wind Instruments (New York: Associated Music Pulishers, Inc., 1956), third movement, measure 97: The A in the oboe, F# in the clarinet, F# in the horn, and F# in the bassoon, all on beat one, all have staccato dots. All are preceded by at least four measures of rests; all are succeeded by two eighth rests and one quarter rest.

2) Samuel Barber, Summer Music for Woodwind Quintet (New York: G. Schirmer, 1957), last measure: The Bb in the horn and Eb in the bassoon both have staccato dots. Both are preceded by at least two quarter rests and one eighth rest. Both are succeeded by an eighth rest and a quarter rest. Both are the last notes in their parts.

So how can these be not "necessarily short, but...detached from the [notes] around them" when there are no notes around them? TheScotch (talk) 05:17, 28 September 2011 (UTC)

Do these dots necessarily indicate staccato? In my experience, the dot can also be used as a mark for a kind of accent (and of course in late-17th- and early 18th-century French music as a mark for jeu égal).—Jerome Kohl (talk) 06:12, 28 September 2011 (UTC)

It's difficult for me to imagine in Walter Piston they mean anything but staccato, but, in any case, accentuation is not separation, and these examples demonstrate that the staccato dot cannnot (universally, at least) mean separation. (My reading of C.P.E. Bach's Essay--of 1753--, by the way, suggests to me that C.P.E. Bach, and possibly his contemporaries, likely understood detachment to mean roughly what we think of as shortening, which would explain why he maintains that notes with a staccato dot should "always" be played slightly less than one-half of their written value, certainly more than would be required of, say, a quarter note at a moderate tempo to separate it from a succeeding note.) In any case, I can also furnish examples in which a staccato note is succeeded by rests but not preceded by rests (or other staccato notes). In the Barber, for example, a staccato sixteenth-note in the flute comes directly after twenty thirty-second-note decituplets and five thirty-second-note quintuplets. The tuplets all last one-fifth of an eighth-note (counted, in effect, by the oboe below) and the sixteenth without the dot would last, of course, one-half of an eighth-note. Barber is saying that the last note, the sixteenth, should approximately equal the tuplet notes, but he doesn't want to be fussy, messy, or seemingly insistent on an absolute length. TheScotch (talk) 21:30, 28 September 2011 (UTC)

Sure, but many wind players tend to think (wrongly, in my opinion) of a staccato note as a "punched" tonguing, and not merely a shortening of the note at the end. Gardner Read lists the dot amongst 14 symbols used for accent (Music Nonation, Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 1964, p. 443), and on p. 260 explains, "Although it is not an accent in keyboard music, the staccato mark must be discussed here because it has become associated with the percussive accent in orchestral instruments". An associated case is the opening, isolated chord of Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms, marked with an accent mark in all the instruments except the harp, which instead has the staccato dot, indicating the strings must be damped immediately—but there is no accent mark in addition. It seems unlikely that Stravinsky meant everyone should accent except the harp! Another fuzzy area is whether a staccato may also indicate separation from a preceding non-staccato note. This becomes especially important in string playing, where the dot by itself usually indicates spiccato, whereas staccato is indicated by the dot under a slur. Spiccato can scarcely be connected to the preceding note. As to the "less than half" rule, this surely depends on context. Consider the opening C-major chord in Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 1, which is a staccato whole note, followed by staccato repetitions of the same chord as half notes. Cutting that first chord to less than a half note makes no musical sense at all.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 22:05, 28 September 2011 (UTC)
Re: "As to the 'less than half' rule, this surely depends on context.":
I agree, but Bach says "always"--directly below where he seems to suggest it does depend on context, and I'm afraid I can't resolve the contradiction. In any case, he seems to want staccato notes shorter than the modern idea of separation (between two slur groups on the piano, for example) would normally require.
Re: "Another fuzzy area is whether a staccato may also indicate separation from a preceding non-staccato note. This becomes especially important in string playing, where the dot by itself usually indicates spiccato, whereas staccato is indicated by the dot under a slur."
There is some disagreement about what staccato means in terms of string bowing (whether it refers to a single kind of bowing or to a group of bowings), and if the article is to discuss this, I think it should discuss it in a separate, distinctly titled, section. A slur over a dotted eigth followed by a staccato-dot sixteenth in string music means the eighth should be shortened, not the sixteenth, and this is merely an exceptional convention, one the the article should mention only if it is to be greatly expanded. Otherwise we sow confusion.
Re: "Spiccato can scarcely be connected to the preceding note."
Since a musician may have to cut certain notes short for various reasons, the set of note shortenings either subsumes the set of staccato notes or intersects with it; it doesn't coincide with it. Every staccato note in modern notation, with certain exceptions, may be shortened, but not every shortened note may be staccato.TheScotch (talk) 22:43, 28 September 2011 (UTC)

staccato examples[edit]

The bassoon articulations would be clearer if the tempo remained the same. To the unitiated, hearing the staccato example at a faster tempo than the following example can be confusing.

The same comment applies to the slurred example. The question is just what is the difference between the last two examples other than tempo?

Aarossi (talk) 18:41, 13 May 2009 (UTC)Anastasio Rossi

scope of staccato dot[edit]

The text of the article mentions a dot over a note indicating staccato. In the example, the dot is over two notes. Are both played staccato, or is the lower note of the pairs played legato? I suspect it is the former. If so, the text of the article should make that clear. — Preceding unsigned comment added by JohnOFL (talkcontribs) 14:55, 31 August 2011 (UTC)

It would be better to have single notes if there is to be only one illustration. The dots in this illustration don't look much like dots to me, by the way--more like short vertical line segments. TheScotch (talk) 05:43, 22 September 2011 (UTC)

I went ahead & put in a new picture to clarify it. — Preceding unsigned comment added by JohnOFL (talkcontribs) 17:39, 15 November 2011 (UTC)

Additional citations[edit]

Why and where does this article need additional citations for verification? What references does it need and how should they be added? Hyacinth (talk) 23:50, 4 November 2011 (UTC)