I'm currently transcribing the following song (I have the text and am getting some help from Italian.SE, as I don't speak Italian!):

The singing is pretty rubato, in particular words often seem to "run-into-each-other", most noticeably when one word ends with a vowel and another starts with one. For example, in this line:

sono assetato e cerco una fontana.

each of the words ending in "o" runs into the vowel at the beginning of the next word, effectively "sounding" like a single syllable.

Would it be appropriate to assign both vowels to a single note in sheet music, in this case, either in Italian or any other language? (Particularly when these vowels are not in the same word.)


1 Answer 1


This is very common in Italian music. Here's a notated excerpt (name that piece!):

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That "under slur" notation shows that the vowels from different words meld into one and are sung on a single pitch.

I'm not certain of this practice in other languages, but it definitely exists in Italian.

  • Grazie mille...! Apr 16, 2017 at 12:31
  • 1
    If you're really bored, you can check out Robert Moreen's Princeton dissertation "Integration of Text Forms and Musical Forms in Verdi's Early Operas," where he talks lines of specific syllable lengths and how they're created by these elisions in the text.
    – Richard
    Apr 16, 2017 at 12:33
  • 2
    It's not common in other languages, but many Italian words end with a vowel, and many prepositions, conjunctions ,articles, pronouns, etc, are single-syllable words which start with a vowel, so these elisions correspond to the normal speech-rhythms. On the other hand, in French this doesn't apply at all, because vowels like "e" which are silent at the end of words in prose are pronounced in poetry and count as a separate syllable in the meter of the verse - and therefore get their own note when the poem is set to music.
    – user19146
    Apr 16, 2017 at 13:32
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    @alephzero: This phenomenon, called synalepha, is also quite usual in Spanish and Catalan.
    – Charo
    Apr 16, 2017 at 15:34

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