Types of Articulations

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Articulations indicate a how a note should be played.

Whether a performance technique effects a singular note, multiple notes, or transitions between notes; they are all regarded as articulations, as these techniques give direction to how a note should be performed.

There are many types of articulations, with classic orchestral articulations typically being written in Italien. Below is a list of articulations used in orchestral music, which you will find in Audio Imperia libraries:

Accent

Indicates that there should be strong emphasis on the note.

Bartok Pizzicato

A stronger variation of pizzicato where the string is plucked vertically, rebounding off the fingerboard of the instrument, creating a snapping sound.

Bowed

Also known as “Arco“, meaning “with the bow“, instructs players to use the bow in a typical manner, drawing the hair of the bow across the strings to produce sound.

Col Legno

Translates to “with the wood“, instructing string players to strike the strings with the stick of the bow, producing a percussive sound. 

Flautando

A string technique, instructing players to play near or over the fingerboard to produce a “flute-like” tone.

Glissando

An unbroken slide between notes.

Hit

A percussion technique where the instrument is struck with sticks, mallets or hands.

Legato

Indicates that notes should be played in a smooth, connected manner. Slurred legato indicates that the notes should be played together in one bow stroke, whereas rebowed legato indicates that the bow direction should change with each note.

Marcato

Translates to “hammered“, indicating the note should be as loud as a standard accent and as as short as a staccato note.

Muted

Also known as “Con Sordino“, instructs players to play with a mute, dampening the sound.

Normale

Returning to the standard playing technique of the instrument.

Pizzicato

A string technique that involves plucking the strings of an instrument with fingers rather than using the bow.

Portato

Instructs players to give notes under a slur slight emphasis. Notes are slightly more detached than legato, but not as detached as staccato.

Rim Hit

Also known as “Rimshot”, is a percussion technique where the rim and head of the drum are hit simultaneously with a drum stick, producing an accented percussive hit.

Rolls

Are a percussion technique, where the instrument is repeatedly hit in a continuous manner. Crescendo rolls gradually increase in dynamics, whereas sustained rolls remain consistent in volume.

Sforzando

Indicates notes should be played with a sudden strong emphasis.

Spiccato

A short string technique, where the hair of the bow bounces off the string on each note change.

Staccato

Indicates that notes should be played in a short, detached manner, cutting off the note before the subsequent note. The opposite of legato.

Staccatissimo

An even shorter form of staccato, cutting off the note even faster before the subsequent note.

Sul Ponticello

Translates to “at the bridge“, instructing players to play with their bow near the bridge to bring out harmonics, giving the sound a nasal quality.

Sul Tasto

Translates to “on the touch“, instructing players to play with their bow over the fingerboard, producing a thin, whispery tone.

Sustained

A long technique that indicates notes should be played in a straight and uninterrupted manner.

Tenuto

Instructing players to play notes to hold the note for its full length, not cutting the ending of the note off, producing less of a detached feeling between notes.

Tongued

A winds technique that instructs players to use their tongue to interrupt the flow of air through the mouthpiece in order to enunciate notes. This is typical used to produce a rapid succession of notes, with more advanced techniques such as double tonguing and triple tonguing increasing the speed in the succession of notes.

Tremolo

Instructs players to rapidly repeat a note, giving the note a pulsating effect.

Trill

A musical ornament that instructs the player to rapidly alternate between two adjecent notes that are either a half tone or whole tone apart.

Vibrato

Indicates there should be a slight, rapid wavering in the pitch of the note, typically used to make melodic lines more expressive.

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Types of Articulations

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