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I'm a bit stuck on how I feel it's most appropriate to place staccato in a piece I'm writing. The excerpt below is not from the piece I'm working on -- I just wrote up a phrase to show how this situation presents in the piece.

tied staccato

How would you play this if you came across it in a piece you were practicing? Do the neighboring staccato crotchets provide enough context to indicate that the tied semiquavers should be played the same way?

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    Why would you do this in the first place? If the note is staccato, it won't be exactly tied over anyway. Consider just notating all the syncopes as simple quavers without any dots. –Although, I will admit that that “feels” a bit different. – leftaroundabout May 29 at 13:01
  • If this is a "swing" piece, then just add written instructions, as the final eighth note would be played very late, almost onto the next downbeat. So it really depends on where you wanted the note to end. – Carl Witthoft May 29 at 13:23
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If you want the note to be abbreviated, the dot must be on the last of the tied notes only. If there is a dot (or even a tenuto bar) on the first note, this indicates that the first note is detached from the second, meaning that any accompanying slur will be a phrasing or technical slur (like on a violin where slurs indicate the absence of a bowing direction change) but not a tie forming a single note duration.

With regard to the execution, an eighth tied to a dotted eighth is executed like a dotted quarter note. This can be counterintuitive when you articulate a dotted quarter as short or shorter than a full eighth since the "second note" formally can be over before it even starts. But there really is no way to notate syncopes differently if the execution of staccato is left to the discretion of the performer.

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  • Agreed. If I wanted the last eighth note to "just barely last past the next downbeat" I'd use the tie and a dot on the downbeat's eighth note. – Carl Witthoft May 29 at 13:24
  • I really don't think this answer is correct, especially as you mention tenuto. Unlike staccato, tenuto on a tied-over note definitely can make sense, and in that case you should put certainly put it on the first note (i.e. before the barline), so the accent-effect of the tenuto actually affects the whole note. Putting the tenuto on the downbeat would mean to emphasize that beat, i.e. that's what would basically un-tie the notes. – leftaroundabout May 29 at 13:28
  • @user69878 you are correct, the dot must be in the second note. If the dot was on the first note it would be played separately from the second note. In order to avoid the whole problem it would be better to avoid the tie and instead write a short note without a tie. In the OP's example that would be an eight note which is followed by a pause in the next bar. – Lars Peter Schultz May 31 at 20:53
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If you really want this, then put the dot just under the actual played note, not under the tied-over one.

X:1
L:1/8
M:C
K:C
%%score T1
V:T1           clef=treble
% 1
[V:T1] ([DB]2 [Gc]) z .[Fd]2 z .[DB]-| [DB] z .[B,DA]2 z .[B,FG]2 B,

Having multiple dots within a note, even a tied one, would imply you actually want multiple attacks on it. This is presumably never found in piano, but it's quite common with bowed string instruments. For instance, this

X:1
L:1/8
M:C
K:C
%%score T1
V:T1           clef=treble
% 1
[V:T1] (.c.c .c.c) (.c.c .c.c)

would mean you should only move the bow back and forth once, but bounce on each of the individual notes with the bow (spiccato).

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  • Good points, but that's not spiccato - it's more just indicating not to change bow direction. Spiccato is pretty much limited to fast note groups. But the RealProblem(TM) is that the placement of a dot on the first eighth is confusing at best. – Carl Witthoft May 29 at 13:20
  • Well, it depends on the tempo whether to actually use spiccato, but the point is that each of the notes has a distinct attack in it. – leftaroundabout May 29 at 13:30
  • About the RealProblem I disagree, but if you have references for your opinion then do bring them forth. – leftaroundabout May 29 at 13:32
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    Regarding spiccato: Spiccato is a technique used on bowed string instruments. Often it is up to the player whether to use a spiccato bowing technique or some other bowing technique when there are dots above or below the notes. It is wrong that spiccato would need to be a fast tempo. You can play spiccato in any tempo from slow to fast. But it will need practice to do it in any tempo, with any dynamic and with any string crossing. If the tempo gets very fast the spiccato stroke transforms into a sautillé stroke. Some people might use the term spiccato also when the stroke is actually sautillé. – Lars Peter Schultz May 30 at 22:05

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