Why Articulations

Imagining how you'd like the musicians to play your work is part of the fun of composing music! The more detailed you can make the instructions for how the musicians should play the notes the more closely the performance will match your imagination. Articulations refer to how the notes are played. Let's start with the basics.


A dot placed directly above or below the note tells the musician to play that note short and seperate. (This is a different symbol from the rhythm dot.)



Slurs are lines placed above or below the notes that tell the musician to play those notes smooth and connected. (This is a different symbol from the tie.)


Note: Pay careful attention to the difference between ties and slurs. Students very often mistakenly use ties when they mean to put in slurs. The slur marking is under the Lines menu and the tie marking is under the Basics menu.


A really neat rhythmic effect to try is making certain notes slightly louder than other notes. This symbol is called an accent. Accents can be used any where. Think of how or why you accent certain words or syllables when you speak. You may want to accent certain notes in your melodies for the same reason!


Combine Articulations

Combining articulations can have a dramatic effect. Listen to this example and notice how each articulation changes the way the notes sound.

Add Articulations to Your Piece!

Go to your composition and add thoughtful articulations throughout your piece. There are many other articulations markings that you are free to explore and use.

Add Articulations to Your Piece

Classroom Activities

Working in small groups, pairs or individual can select a classroom instrument, ipad or band instrument. Distribute a short melody of 4 to 6 notes. Ask students to perform the short melody using each of the articulations in this lesson. Students may share their performance with the class and discuss the choices they've made. Facility a discussion as to how each articulation effects the melody.


Leave a comment on the aticulations topic here describing any insights or breakthroughs exploring articulations.

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