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Learn the Language of Music ; Articulation

There are a number of other expression or mood markings that you may encounter in a piece of music; collectively these are called articulation marks.


Articulation marks may be written as word marks or symbols and may effect one or more of the qualities of sound at one time.


Some articulation marks will effect pitch:

Glissando - to slide through a series of adjacent pitches. Find string number 6 on your guitar and place your index finger just behind fret number 1.


Pick the string and slide up the neck until you reach fret number 13.


While you are sliding, continue to press down with your index finger so you can hear each pitch on the fretboard as you pass by the frets. You may repeat the exercise, playing a downward glissando.


Some articulation marks will effect duration:

Staccato - to play the notes detached or separated. Find string number 4 on your guitar and place your second finger just behind fret number 2.


Pick the string, and just after you hear the note sound, relax your second finger so that you are no longer pressing.


Your second finger should still be touching the string but should not be pressing down to the fret. You may play a series of notes in this way and all of the notes in this way and all of the notes will be shorter in duration than their original notation, sounding detached or separated.




Some articulation marks will effect tempo:

Ritardando - gradually slowing down.


Find string number 3 on your guitar. Pick the string continuously using 60 beats per minute as your tempo. When you reach the ritardando marking, begin to gradually slow down until the tempo becomes very slow. The challenge is to slow down gradually and evenly as you continue to pick the string.


Some articulation marks will effect intensity:

crescendo - gradually becoming louder.


Find string number 5 on your guitar. Pick the string continuously using 60 beats per minute as your tempo, but pick the string very softly so the notes are just audible.


As you alternate your picking direction, begin to gradually increase the attack in the string until you are playing fortissimo. The challenge is to keep playing at a tempo of 60 beats per minute as you gradually play more loudly. Still other articulation marks may effect a number of different sound qualities at once:



  • Animato Animated


  • con brio with energy, spirited


  • scherzando joking, whimsical


  • vivace lively

These marks are usually related to human emotions and are relative marks of feeling.


You will learn a greater number of articulation marks as they appear in your lessons.




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