In the image below, concerning the third slur, I am trying to figure out if I should be playing both hands legato?

Two reasons for that:

  1. The melody is traveling between the two staves.
  2. The first few notes in the upper stave under the third slur have rests between them, so playing them legato would be impossible. If applying only to the upper stave, it would make more sense to start the slur after all those rests.

Puff the Magic Dragon sheet

  • Not the best transcription. There's no point at all in putting the two notes (the au...) to be played with l.h. Scrap this version, don't consider it any more!
    – Tim
    Sep 5 at 18:02
  • 3
    @Tim The arrangement is specifically designed for beginning players; see my answer for an explanation.
    – Aaron
    Sep 5 at 18:28
  • 3
    @Tim if you look closer at the score it should be obvious that the point of this version is to keep the hands in one position. It makes sense for beginners to play something without position shifts. Sep 5 at 18:28
  • 2
    The commas separating the sentence's subject from its predicate and separating the two parts of the compound predicate are also questionable.
    – phoog
    Sep 5 at 20:40
  • Also, the C in measure 8 could do with a natural.
    – Jos
    Sep 6 at 15:54

The slurs in this case are serving as phrase markings; notice that they correspond to the punctuation of the lyrics.

They also indicate legato playing, and they are intended to apply to both hands. In measures 5 and 6 in particular, the idea is to keep a legato connection of the melody as its notes shift between hands.

This arrangement of the song employs a "five-finger position", meaning it's designed so that each hand is positioned on five specific notes and then doesn't need to change position to play the song.

In this case, the hand positions are:

RH: 1  2  3  4  5
    D  E  F# G  A

    G  A  B  C  D
LH: 5  4  3  2  1

The two thumbs "share" the D, which is common in this type of arrangement.

  • A follow-up question if it's not too out of the way. When it comes to piano, would both slurs and phrase markings basically indicate that you need to play legato?
    – drvnob
    Sep 7 at 19:47
  • @drvnob As a general rule, yes. As exception doesn't immediately come to mind, but let's allow for one.
    – Aaron
    Sep 7 at 19:54
  • Ah, thank you. I've tried to look up answers online, but couldn't find anything concise. Most of them just allude to other instruments.
    – drvnob
    Sep 12 at 13:37

Phrase marks here rather than slurs. (How would you slur the first four notes?)Yes, in this case where the melody moves between the staves, the phrase applies to the whole melody.

But you'd phrase the entire melody that way whether the phrase mark was there or not.

But don't try to dissect this sort of writing too minutely. How shall we play those last four LH notes - the downward scale? If we were being meticulous, they might deserve a slur. But the lack of one doesn't tell us anything in particular.

  • 2
    "don't try to dissect this sort of writing too minutely": This bit of wisdom deserves an upvote of its own.
    – phoog
    Sep 5 at 23:45
  • What do you mean by "this sort of writing"? Could you elaborate?
    – drvnob
    Sep 6 at 19:20
  • @Aaron describes it well in his answer below. Sep 6 at 19:29
  • I think you might have misunderstood me, or I misunderstood you. I just wanted to know what type/category would you put "this sort of writing" in. How does "this sort of writing" differ from any other sheet music? Why should I not dissect this writing? Is it because it's beginner's sheet music? Is it because it's fixed hand positions?
    – drvnob
    Sep 7 at 19:24

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