What is this please...?

Brains trust - what do the lines across the top of notes mean? Eg: those above the below eighth notes A, G, F, E. Is this indicating to accent these notes? Not sure…


That is called “tenuto”, which literally means “held” in Italian, and is kind of the opposite of “staccato”, which would be with dots over the notes. Staccato means that you play the notes short (don’t let them ring), while for tenuto you let them ring for the entirety of their duration.
Note: it’s not “legato” either, which would be when the notes are connected with arcs from note to note; so, again, you play each note here with its own attack, but let it ring for its entire length.

Hope that helped a bit!?


So you play them separately but sounding through.


Great, thanks that makes sense.

One further question though, how do they differ from other eighth notes that don’t have that marking? I assumed you would play them for the full length of the eighth note too, into the next eighth note (eg: last line, second bar the d and d# eighth notes). Would normal practice be that you would mute it just before you play the next note? Cheers


I’ve seen those lines used to counter staccoto note defaults. For example, if at the start of the piece it says all notes played with staccoto then it won’t put staccoto marks on every note. It will put the lines on the few notes that aren’t staccoto. This makes the music notation less busy. It’s like having a music key mark sharps to be played throughout the song and then putting a natural symbol on the few notes that don’t have sharps, rather than marking most notes with sharps.

Not sure if that is the case here though.


Yeah, actually that makes sense as there are stacotto dots at the beginning of the piece. Many thanks, I think my questions have been answered. :+1:t4:


Very good point. Potentially, that goes into the real nitty-gritty, but I think the difference is that the attack on a tenuto note is softer.

So, perhaps you could say:

  • staccato eighth note: ta
  • normal eighth note: taa
  • tenuto eighth note: daa


No, no muting required.


Hey all! Just caught this thread - those markings should actually have been this (now updated):
Screen Shot 2021-07-02 at 1.59.49 PM

Breaking it down:

  • The dot = staccato, separated
  • The line = tenuto, connected
  • Both together = can’t find the official theory term in my brain, but it means to give them a slight separation, but not as much as a staccato mark would indicate

So expressed through text, that bar would maybe be more like “bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum” instead of “bababababababa”


Now it just looks like a bunch of very unimpressed notes staring back at me :sweat_smile:




Similar, but slightly different, that looks like this:
Screen Shot 2021-07-23 at 2.29.58 PM


Screen Shot 2021-07-02 at 1.59.49 PM

Morse Code…… Dots & Dash’s……:rofl::rofl::rofl:

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There seems to be some ambiguity out there concerning how “portato” should be represented graphically:
From Wikipedia:


Ah, nice find. I guess that’s the official fancy pants theory jargon then!