Posted by
Erin Nichols
 October 11, 2016

Do different articulation markings leave your head spinning? These days, it’s becoming very common to see a wide range of articulations denoted in music, especially with extended techniques and contemporary composers. With the help of Jennifer Cluff, flute blogger extraordinaire, I have compiled some super useful resources to help you or your students practice the best articulations possible.

For beginning to intermediate players, this page is a very helpful guide to common articulation markings and approximately how short the note should be played, as well as the appropriate style. Many beginning students use a puff of air for each note, giving the music a very detached and not very musical feel. This graphic explains how to use a more continuous sound.

For more advanced players who are fine-tuning their skills, Paul-Edmund Davies gives a fantastic talk on legato articulation, which can be very challenging to master, here. And what about that super mysterious marking of slurs over staccatos? I have tried for years to articulate (pun intended) the meaning of that, and here is the best explanation I have found, from Karen Smithson’s Playing the Flute:
“Notes written with both a staccato dot and a slur are to be played tongued and semi-detached, as though a tiny diminuendo were written on each note. This has an effect similar to a bell being rung several times in a row. The moment the bell is struck the sound begins to fade until the bell is struck again. This method of articulation allows us to make a sound midway between a legato (completely connected) and staccato (completely detached).”

Happy articulating!

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