Context: I am a beginner piano student

Consider the time signature (4/4) and a metronome that is set at a particular bpm. If your first note is a quarter note, do you raise your hand from the key on the second tick or just before the second tick. Depending on when you raise the key, you could have different articulations. Is there a default articulation people usually play with?


The default is usually legato. Rather like talking, the following word comes directly after the preceding word with no gap, They follow smoothly. So, with piano, just as the next note gets played, the previous gets stopped by lifting off the key.

There are various articulations, as you allude. They vary from a slurred feel, where the notes bleed into each other - often caused by use of pedal, but also by holding down previously played keys, to staccato, where there is a larger gap between each note than the duration of the notes themselves.

And all stops in between!

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  • The default playing style is non-legato. Like talking. We do have gaps between our words, otherwise understanding would be very difficult. – tommsch Jan 19 '18 at 13:46
  • @tommsch - have to disagree. Non-legato = staccato. We might speak ,exasperated, to a naughty child in non-legato manner, but there is rarely a gap between words in a spoken phrase. listen carefully as someone speaks normally. Whilst one word won't slur into the next, there is no discernable space, it's all in one breath. – Tim Jan 19 '18 at 14:24
  • Non-legato is not staccato. This is obvious, because there are staccato signs (dots and wedges), there are legato signs (bows), but there no non-legato signs. If legato would be the standard, there would be no need for a legato sign, but instead for a non-legato sign. Also: All music from Bach to Chopin is played non-legato (if not marked differently) - It is not played legato! In Pop-piano the standard is legato. – tommsch Jan 20 '18 at 15:03

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