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Portato ( [porˈtaːto] ; Italian past participle of portare, "to carry"), also mezzo-staccato, French notes portées, [1] in music denotes a smooth, pulsing articulation and is often notated by adding dots under slur markings.


Portato is also known as articulated legato. [2]


One type of portato notation, also used for staccato and flying spiccato.

Portato is a bowing technique for stringed instruments, [3] in which successive notes are gently re-articulated while being joined under a single continuing bow stroke. It achieves a kind of pulsation or undulation, rather than separating the notes. It has been notated in various ways. One early 19th-century writer, Pierre Baillot (L’art du violon, Paris, 1834), gives two alternatives: a wavy line, and dots under a slur. Later in the century a third method became common: placing "legato" dashes (tenuto) under a slur. [1] The notation with dots under slurs is ambiguous, because it is also used for very different bowings, including staccato and flying spiccato. [1] [4] Currently, portato is sometimes indicated in words, by "mezzo-staccato" or "non-legato"; or can be shown by three graphic forms:

Portato is defined by some authorities as "the same as portamento". [6]

See also

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In music, a glissando is a glide from one pitch to another. It is an Italianized musical term derived from the French glisser, "to glide". In some contexts, it is distinguished from the continuous portamento. Some colloquial equivalents are slide, sweep, bend, smear, rip, lip, plop, or falling hail. On wind instruments, a scoop is a glissando ascending to the onset of a note achieved entirely with the embouchure.

Staccato is a form of musical articulation. In modern notation, it signifies a note of shortened duration, separated from the note that may follow by silence. It has been described by theorists and has appeared in music since at least 1676.

In music performance and notation, legato indicates that musical notes are played or sung smoothly and connected. That is, the player makes a transition from note to note with no intervening silence. Legato technique is required for slurred performance, but unlike slurring, legato does not forbid re-articulation.

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A slur is a symbol in Western musical notation indicating that the notes it embraces are to be played without separation. A slur is denoted with a curved line generally placed over the notes if the stems point downward, and under them if the stems point upwards.

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  1. 1 2 3 Walls, Peter. 2001. "Bow, §II, 3. Bowstrokes after c1780, (iii) Portato (It.; Fr. notes portées, louré)". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.
  2. Blood, Brian. 2012. "Music Theory Online: Lesson 21: Phrasing & Articulation". Dolmetsch Organisation (Accessed 19 December 2012).
  3. Anon. 2001. "Portato". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.
  4. Walls, Peter. 2001. "Bow, §II, 3. Bowstrokes after c1780, (vi) Staccato". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.
  5. Tsai, Chia-Fen. 2008. "Articulation". The "Thirty Caprices" of Sigfrid Karg-Elert: A Comprehensive Study. AAT 3325459. [ full citation needed ] ISBN   9780549808930.
  6. Kennedy, Michael. 1994. "Portato". The Oxford Dictionary of Music, second edition, revised. Associate editor, Joyce Bourn. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN   0-19-869162-9.