Symbols and lines placed around notes change the way they sound, and create a relationship with surrounding notes. This concept is called “articulation,” and is modified in piano music using articulation marks.
Common symbols affecting articulation include:
A small dot placed above or below a note, making it brief in duration (not to be confused with a rhythm dot, which is placed after a note-head).
A small wedge or straight comma above a note that creates an exaggerated staccato; a very brief note.
Also informally referred to as simply an “accent,” a marcato makes a note slightly more pronounced than surrounding notes.
Makes a note considerably louder than surrounding notes. When a single note is affected, the abbreviation sfz is written.
* Sforzando is also considered a dynamics command.
A curved line that joins two or more notes of the same pitch. In piano music, notes connected by a tie are struck as one note, and are held for the total duration of all the tied notes. For example, in the image above, the F is held for three beats.
* Ties may also be considered tempo marks, since they modify rhythm.
- Legato or Slur
Connects two or more different notes. In piano music, the individual notes must be struck, but there should be no audible spaces between them.
An indication to hold a note or chord for any desired length. A fermata is also called a hold or a bird’s eye.
* A fermata may also be considered a tempo mark.
A squiggly vertical line next to a chord means its notes are not played simultaneously; the notes are hit quickly in order, creating a harp-like effect. Arpeggiated chords usually go from low to high, unless marked by a downward arrow. An arpeggiato is a fast-moving arpeggio.
Continue With Articulation:
► Learn More Articulation Symbols & Terms
See More Musical Symbols:
■Staff & Barlines ■Note Lengths ■Articulation Marks ■Repeat Signs
■The Grand Staff ■Dotted Notes ■Dynamics & Volume ■Segno & Coda Signs
■Time Signatures ■Accidentals ■Key Signatures ■Pedal Marks
■Tempo Commands ■Piano Chords ■Music Rests ■8va & Octave Commands