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I am writing down some choir music in which, beginning at a certain point, the bass starts to sing continuous eighths in a particular manner: the first eighth is tied to the second one, but the second and third ones are sung staccato.

If I recall correctly, this technique is called a "minuet step". I am looking for adding a comment in Italian to the notes so that I don't have to write the legatos and staccatos explicitly all over the place (as this part of the piece is quite long). My question is: how does one say "The bass in minuet steps" in Italian?

I don't speak Italian, but after searching for similar expressions and machine-translating "minuet steps" in Italian, I've come up with

Passi di minuetto il basso

but I'm not anywhere near sure this is correct.

  • Dont skimp on the use of staccato marks. It is poor not to indicate exactly what notes you want played detached,. – Neil Meyer Feb 6 '15 at 10:12
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I am looking for adding a comment in Italian to the notes so that I don't have to write the legatos and staccatos explicitly all over the place (as this part of the piece is quite long).

Although I know generally what a minuet is musically, I don't know what "minuet steps" means. I wouldn't associate the phrase with any particular articulation pattern, and could only guess how to interpret that phrase if I saw it in music. Unless your choir is well-versed in Baroque dance steps, its likely they won't understand it either.

Rather than use a term that may or may not be understood by the performers, it may be better to write out the desired articulation for the first few bars, and then use the very common term simile, which means to continue playing "in the same way." This would prevent you from having to mark the same articulations throughout the section, and will be generally understood by most musicians.

In addition, there is a somewhat common tempo marking, a tempo di menuetto, which means to play in the tempo and style of a minuet. You could use this to indicate to the performer that this section should sound like a graceful dance, but don't necessarily expect it to indicate a precise articulation pattern.

  • Interesting… maybe it's a national peculiarity then. In Hungary, almost everyone calls this kind of articulation a "minuet step". Go figure. – H2CO3 Feb 6 '15 at 15:09

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