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Articulations - Part 2 of Time Expressions

Part 1 of Time Expressions features exercises to help you improve your control of dynamics. Another aspect of musical expression is how we articulate notes. Articulation in music describes how we begin and end each note. The three most common articulation markings are slurs, staccatos, and accents. Also, it is very common to see notes without any articulation marking at all. The way we play notes without a specific articulation marking is determined by the style and the period in which the music was composed. For the material in this method, when there is no articulation marking, play the notes legato — smooth and connected.

While dynamic markings all have the same meaning for every instrument, articulation markings can have slightly different meanings or interpretations, depending on the instrument you are playing. For example, a slur under or above a group of notes indicates that they should be connected, without any separation. To be more specific though, for string players, that means you play those notes on one stroke of the bow, but for wind and brass players, it means that you should play the notes on one breath, and without tonguing any notes other than the first one.

The following lessons serve as an introduction to three basic articulation markings. Lesson 8 combines the dynamic and articulation markings in the book. Select a link below for more information on each topic for articulations, or purchase the Time Expressions book.

Lesson 5 - Slurs
Lesson 6 - Staccatos
Lesson 7 - Accents
Lesson 8 - Putting It Together - Articulations and Dynamics
To learn about dynamics, visit Part 1 of Time Expressions.