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Accents
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Accents

An accent is a momentary stress or emphasis on a particular note. We use accents to articulate rhythmic groups.

So that they contribute to the performance of a musical phrase.

Accents

We use various types of accents in the music. We can create an emphasis by placing longer notes among shorter notes. This is an agogic accent. For example, a half note among quarter notes. We can also create an emphasis by placing higher pitch notes among others. This is a tonic accent. Another way of creating an emphasis is using louder sounds. To do this we emphasize the attack of the sound. This a dynamic accent or stress accent.

There are two different kinds of dynamic accents. The first one is the percussive accent and the second one is the pressure accent. We can also classify these accents as light accents, medium accents, and strong (or heavy) accents. To indicate these, we use accent marks in musical notation. Let’s have a look at all these dynamic accents in a table and learn them in detail.

PERCUSSIVE

PRESSURE

Staccato

Staccatissimo

Marcato

Accent

Tenuto

Light

Strong

Medium

Here are the common accents used in music.

Accents
Accents

Let’s learn them in detail.

Staccato

Staccato
Staccato

It is a musical articulation which signifies a note of shortened duration, separated from the following note. It is a simple dot that you place below or below notes. To perform a staccato, we should shorten the note value, but while doing that we should still hear the pitch of the note clearly.

Staccatissimo

Staccatissimo
Staccatissimo

It is shorter than staccato. It indicates that the note is held for an exaggerated short amount of time. To hear the pitch of the note is harder when you apply staccatissimo. The notes with staccatissimo are extremely separated and distinct.

Accent (Normal accent)

Accent
Accent

Normal accent indicates that the marked note should have an emphasized beginning (or hard attack). So when you use the normal accent, you basically play the marked notes louder than the surrounding unaccented notes in the piece.

Marcato (Martellato)

Marcato
Marcato

It is a very strong accent. Sometimes it is known as Martellato which means “Hammered” in Italian. In other words, it resembles a blow of a hammer. Marcato is often used with string instruments.

Tenuto

Tenuto
Tenuto

It is one of the earliest accents used in musical notation. It means “To hold” in Italian and its precise meaning is contextual. This may indicate that we should play a note at its full length. Also, it may indicate that we should play a note slightly louder. When there are several notes with tenuto marks in a row, it may indicate that we should separate a note with a little space from surrounding notes. It can alter either the dynamic or the duration of a note. Either way, it indicates an emphasis or accent on the marked note. Sometimes we call tenuto a legato accent.

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An Insight Into Music Theory by Gökhan Damgacı

Gökhan Damgacı

Gökhan Damgacı is a pianist, composer, field recordist, sound designer, and author of sound and music-related books. All his life revolves around nature, art, books, and of course coffee. In his opinion, knowledge grows when shared. It is why, in his spare time, he likes to share what he learns and knows with others.

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Gökhan Damgacı

Gökhan Damgacı is a pianist, composer, field recordist, sound designer, and author of sound and music-related books. All his life revolves around nature, art, books, and of course coffee. In his opinion, knowledge grows when shared. It is why, in his spare time, he likes to share what he learns and knows with others.

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