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#555707 - 12/26/07 06:52 PM phrase marks and staccatos
hopinmad Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/07
Posts: 1001
Loc: Eryri/Manchester
If there are three notes, of different pitches, with a dot above or below each one, to be played without pedal, and with a phrase mark (a curve from the first note to the end) over them, how are they to be played?
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Patience's the best teacher, and time the best critic. - F.F.Chopin

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#555708 - 12/26/07 06:58 PM Re: phrase marks and staccatos
pianojerome Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
How are they to be played?

As a phrase.


Take those three words: "as a phrase."

How do you say them? Somewhat portamento (cross between stacatto and legato), I think. "As" (slight pause) "a" (slight pause) "phrase" (big gasp for breath).

But, even though they are all short words followed by little rests, we (most of us) don't sound like robots when we say them. We say them as a phrase. "As" is the first word, "a" is the middle word, and "phrase" is the last word. Depending on the context, maybe you would accent a little louder the "phra" of "phrase." Maybe, in a different context, somewhat exasperated, you would complain: "AAAAs a phRAAAAAse!"

But either way, they aren't all going to sound the same, even though they are all short and followed by pause. They are different parts one unit.
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#555709 - 12/26/07 07:53 PM Re: phrase marks and staccatos
Antonius Hamus Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/24/05
Posts: 2230
The composer wishes you to perceive it as a phrase. That's all. If you play to an ignorant audience, and wish to share your understanding of the piece, you might want to project it somehow. But that's not always possible.

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#555710 - 12/26/07 07:58 PM Re: phrase marks and staccatos
Varcon Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/15/04
Posts: 1931
Loc: Mount Vernon, Georgia 30445
As Sam says, they are marked 'portamento' in this case (which is literally a singing term meaning to slide from one tone to another)but a better term might be 'mezzo-legato' or 'mezzo-staccato.' It indicates pretty much half & half--not quite staccato and not quite legato. I simply touch the key and release it but not sharply as in a staccato but with a slight 'gap' between tones. There are many instances of this marking in compositions so something worthy of study.

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#555711 - 12/26/07 08:03 PM Re: phrase marks and staccatos
pianojerome Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
Well, it could still be very short stacatto, not portamento. But maybe each one wouldn't be equally short. They could get increasingly shorter or increasingly longer, or maybe the middle could be the longest, or the middle could be the shortest.

Or, it could be as you say mezzo-legato or portamento.

They could evenly crescendo, or evenly decrescendo, or go up and then down.

There might be a longer pause after the 3rd note... or maybe not. There might be a longer pause before the 1st note... or maybe not.


It depends on the context. Make it sound like a phrase, a 3-note phrase, but a phrase always in context. What will sound good in one context will certainly not sound good in another.
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#555712 - 12/26/07 10:59 PM Re: phrase marks and staccatos
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18871
Loc: Victoria, BC
Whether sharply detached or semi-detached, the notes of this particular phrase - as the notes in all phrases - should lead[/b] somewhere. Make the phrase, however short or long it appears, and whatever the quality of the notes that make up the phrase, have a sense of direction, of going somewhere and arriving.

Regards,
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Estonia 190

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#555713 - 12/27/07 01:42 AM Re: phrase marks and staccatos
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
In the 18th century staccato was also used as an accent(see CPE's Versuch). I bring out notes with dots under slurs/phrases. In CPE Bach and Beethoven it means a 'bebung' (which you can't do on a piano).
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