Articulation (music)

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Under articulation in music the way is firstly understood as a single tone vocal or instrumental produced or formed is; Second, how successive tones are connected to one another : either seamlessly tight ( legato , bound) or with sound pauses between the tones ( non legato , not bound). Articulation thus sums up “different ways of connecting tones with one another or differentiating them from one another”. The technical execution of non-legato is about the question of how long the respective note sounds and the corresponding pause lasts. The numerous ways of connecting tones are a design tool for characterizing the movement of the melody .

Audio connection

The basic ways of connecting tones are `` legatissimo (extremely tied), legato (tied), non legato (not tied), tenuto (held), portato (carried), staccato (detached, repelled, separated) and staccatissimo (strongly separated, strongly separated, extremely short) and noted with the symbols arc, dash, point and wedge as follows. The vertical bar ( | ) is also used. It should be noted that the use of these symbols is not uniform and can also vary within the work of a composer. The designation of staccatissimo using wedges is also not generally used. In his piano school Hugo Riemann mentions the terms mezzolegato and mezzostaccato (leggiero), which are rarely used in practice .


The non-bound articulation types with their sound or air pauses can therefore also be written with pauses, e.g. B.


The names and characters for the musical articulation cannot be precisely defined. Their application must be modified depending on the instrument, playing technique and music style and is heavily dependent on the selected tempo and the room acoustics. The same as the legato with a bow listed Legatissimo (also About Legato called), as a further Ringing in the next note in, in that " the fingers lift only from the key when the next subsequent sound has been heard" is, not possible on all instruments. It is especially practiced on the piano, already mentioned by C. Ph. E. Bach and z. B. used in classical music for the pedalless execution of Alberti basses . In later times (Romanticism, Impressionism) the pedal often takes on this function, although z. B. Frédéric Chopin in accompanying figures both practiced and taught this type of legatissimo game himself. The alleged possibility of producing a non-legato on the piano while using the pedal at the same time, suggesting a staccato with a 'sharp' attack, is an acoustic illusion and contradicts the physical conditions.


The artistic articulation must be studied using exemplary models, e.g. B. is in the following melody from the violin sonata in B flat major KV 378 by WA Mozart (first movement, allegro moderato, bars 26-30), the legato, non-legato (in the 5th bar), staccato, portato and the dash (in the 2nd bar) applied. - The example also shows that the staccato sign has no accentuating meaning.

Art MoVlSonB.tif

If the articulation is only rudimentary or not prescribed by the composer, the player has to find his own that should follow the stylistic criteria of the time. These can be found in the works which were carefully designated by the composer. The following unmarked Kleine Prelude in E minor by JS Bach, BWV 941, could e.g. B. be articulated in the following ways.

Ba KlPräl.png

Differentiation of the term

  • The term articulation is always associated with the idea of ​​a sensual sound quality such as loud – soft, hard – soft, pointed – round. However, this should not tempt you to reinterpret an articulation mark as a purely instrumental execution mark, e.g. B. to understand the staccatissimo as an accent . The accentuation of a tone belongs to the dynamics and in a formal tone compound to the metric .
  • The linguistic sound formation (it. Articolare = to pronounce) and the instrumental sound formation (approach, attack, bow stroke) relate to the technical-physiological formation of the individual sounds or tones. This is where the concept of articulation begins. In singing, where both sounds and tones are generated ( phonation ), it is also related to the clarity and distinctiveness of the generated sounds and tones (it. Articolare = to pronounce clearly). This sound and tone formation must be distinguished from the artistic articulation in reciting and making music. It is significant that vocal notes very rarely have articulation marks.
  • The bow, which indicates the articulatory binding and separation of the notes, has also been used since the early romantic era to denote the phrase and even the motif , it then becomes the so-called 'phrasing bow' (motif or phrase bow), so that the player has every bow since then must check for its respective function.

Articulation and phrasing

The still often held view that the articulation serves the phrasing is likely to be traced back to the figurative meaning of articulus as a member, part of a sentence, section. These terms are clearly those of the formal structure , for which the terms figure, motif, phrase, theme, period, sentence, among other things, are available in music. The elementary forms, which are called "gestalten" because of their individual unity or independence, are the motif and the phrase formed from motifs. These “musical terms and thoughts” form the meaning of the music, which is not an intellectual but an artistic one.

How to read the formal melody elements from the score and how they are to be defined, how they combine to form larger forms, etc. would be a matter of form theory , if this were not primarily concerned with determining the external, measurable form variables such as measure, period, movement and the Description of the form categories, e.g. B. the joint, would be satisfied.

Since Mozart does not yet know the phrasing slur, his following, very carefully articulated melody can also be used to show its formations. There are no generally valid symbols for these in notation. For teaching purposes, square brackets, commas or dashes are used, but without any further, e.g. metric, definition. You can make it clear that articulation and phrasing have a common object, the melody and in this the motifs, but each retain their own aspect: that of characterization and that of design or structure. "Only if the practical execution of the phrasing and the articulation do not touch each other can both coexist and be performed independently of each other."

ArtPhrMo r.tif

The correct execution of the phrasing requires a formal and metrical analysis. An introduction to theoretical and practical metrics can be found under Meter (music) . Trying to write down the motifs and phrases with the help of the bow leads to the corruption of the subtle articulation not only of Mozart:

ArtPhrMo2 r.tif

The articulation theory is part of general music theory ( Hermann Grabner et al.), Its special application of historical performance practice . Also commented text editions contain information, often quite detailed.

See also


  • John Butt: Bach Interpretation. Articulating marks in primery sources of JS Bach . Cambridge 1990. ISBN 0-521-37239-9 .
  • Gotthold Frotscher: Performance practice of early music . Wilhelmshaven 1963. pp. 74-80.
  • Nikolaus Harnoncourt: Music as a sound speech . Kassel 1982. ISBN 3-7618-1098-9 . Pp. 48-63.
  • Hermann Keller : Bach's organ works. A contribution to their history, form, interpretation and rendering . Peters, Leipzig 1948, pp. 43-47.
  • ders .: phrasing and articulation . Kassel 1955.
  • Magnús Pétursson, Joachim MH Neppert: Elementary Book of Phonetics . Hamburg 2002. ISBN 3-87548-318-9 .
  • Egon Sarabèr: Method and Practice of Music Design . Clausthal-Zellerfeld 2011. ISBN 978-3-86948-171-5 . Pp. 201-264.
  • ders .: The art of reading music. For beginners and advanced . 2nd, improved edition 2018, Papierflieger-Verlag, Clausthal-Zellerfeld, ISBN 978-3-86948-626-0 . Pp. 125-134.


  1. Wieland Ziegenrücker: General music theory with questions and tasks for self-control. German Publishing House for Music, Leipzig 1977; Paperback edition: Wilhelm Goldmann Verlag, and Musikverlag B. Schott's Sons, Mainz 1979, ISBN 3-442-33003-3 , p. 159 f.
  2. see: Paul Mies, The articulation marks line and point by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , in: Die Musikforschung 1958, pp. 428–455.
  3. ^ Franz Paul Rigler: Instructions for the piano for musical lessons . Vienna 1779, p. 92, quoted in: Siegbert Rampe: Mozarts Claviermusik. Sound world and performance practice. A manual . Bärenreiter-Verlag, Kassel et al. 1995, ISBN 3-7618-1180-2 , ISMN M-006-31034-0, p. 170.
  4. Stefan Askenase described this legatissimo precisely in his Chopin editions (see the section on the edition of the piano works in the article Frédéric Chopin ).
  5. The illusion arises from the fact that the visual impression of the 'sharp attack' influences the acoustic perception. See also the experiments in: Otto Ortmann: The physical basis of piano touch and tone. An experimental investigation of the effect of the player's touch upon the tone of the piano . EP Dutton & Co, New York 1925. p. 78.
  6. Riemann, Musiklexikon, Art. “Phrasing”.