Is there such a thing as a duration of a staccato note? I mean if you play a whole note staccato and an eighth note staccato, should the duration be the same? What if somebody needs an extra short note how to write that? Or a longer staccato?

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    Do you have an example of a score w/ a staccato whole note? I'd be very surprised to see that unless the piece is in 1/1 time. Feb 14, 2017 at 12:23
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    @CarlWitthoft Unfortunately, no. It's my guess that it us possible. But I swear I have seen a half-note stoccato in a 2/4. May 9, 2017 at 14:31

3 Answers 3


Well, writing a staccato whole note usually gives the impression of being musically illiterate. If you want a shorter note followed by silence, write a short note followed by some rests!

"How short is short" depends on the instrument. For wind instruments there is a natural "short" duration resulting from the way you blow into them. For strings, the same thing is true if you play a short note by "bouncing" the bow off the string. (That isn't the only way to play staccato on strings, though).

Otherwise, a rule of thumb is that "staccato" notes are about half the written duration, and "staccatissimo" (marked by a vertical dash, not a dot) is shorter than "staccato". But in the end, it's up to the performer to decide how short is "short", and if the composer wanted a definite duration, it should be written as the appropriate notes and rests.

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    This is how I read it when I play. A staccato is as short and "punctuated" as I feel it should be. Maybe I want this to feel like "mouse toes" or maybe a tip toeing elephant. Perhaps, I feel it should be a long point with a shorter counter point. But essentially, staccato means to me shorter then normal and I get to decide how short. If the composer wanted a specific version of short then they should have picked the right notes and rests.
    – coteyr
    Feb 14, 2017 at 9:39
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    Hm, I don't recall ever having seen a staccato whole note, but daresay it might not be completely useless, at least in a fast tempo. I would probably play it just a bit only a bit longer than a crotchet, but without the clear-defined cutoff that a | ♩. 𝄾 𝄼 | would demand. Feb 14, 2017 at 13:10
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    I could see a possible use for a staccato whole note, in say, a piano piece where you wanted to indicate a strong, short attack but the note is sustained through the pedal while other stuff is going on. It probably isn't common, and there's other ways to express it, but musical notation and interpretation can be pretty flexible. Feb 14, 2017 at 16:24
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    @leftaroundabout I'm not a string player and I suppose this is a question of semantics, but my interpretation was that "spiccato" and "staccato" were in different categories. I think of spiccato as the physical technique being used by the performer, while staccato describes the auditory effect desired by the composer - so the note on the score would still be described as "staccato" even if the most common interpretation is to use the spiccato technique when performing it. Am I over-separating the two?
    – Tin Wizard
    Feb 14, 2017 at 18:54
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    @Walt yeah, I think that's pretty much correct, but string players themselves make a slightly different distinction: staccato is specifically when you stop the notes by halting the bow on the string, whereas spiccato leaves the strings ringing freely as the bow bounces off. At least fast passages with staccato dots are usually played spiccato or sautillé though, not halted-staccato. Feb 14, 2017 at 19:13

It depends on the music style in question. If you are playing Baroque pieces, they mean slightly detached but remains a musical phrase. If you are playing a romantic piece for example, there are contrasting sections of legato, then it is your decision to make staccato shorter for sake of effect of contrast. I don't think there is an all-encompassing rule regarding staccato duration.

In violin, a staccato may either mean a detached bow, or a bow with initial pressure. A staccatissimo whole note means pressure on the full duration a heavy stroke when releasing. (I can't play string so this section I don't know for sure, please correct me.)

Also, it is not impossible, I think, to see a whole note staccato in piano pieces, possibly (for example) because pedal is intended, but you shall release the note and let it sustain.

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    Not sure about the staccato piano whole note. Pedal stops it being staccato.
    – Tim
    Feb 14, 2017 at 10:58

I was taught that a staccato note had a duration of half the length of the written note, so a staccato eighth note was the equivalent of a 16th note followed by a 16th note rest.

Staccatissimo is indicated by a different symbol (a triangle pointing toward the not note head) and is generally indicating that the note duration is less, perhaps a quarter of the indicated length) and the rest duration more.

Mezzo staccato ( the staccato dot has a horizontal line above it) is the opposite with a longer note duration and a shorter rest.

You can only be precise about this at low speeds of course but this has always worked as a guideline for me

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