Is there a general rule of thumb for how long to make legato passages for wind instruments? I imagine it would be different depending on the instrument itself as well as the dynamic level.

closed as primarily opinion-based by Carl Witthoft, ex nihilo, Tim, Dave Jacoby, ttw Feb 19 at 21:20

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    So you mean to make sure the player(s) can breathe? I think it matters whether it’s a solo part of written for multiple players playing the same part. In the latter case they would stagger their breathing to create the illusion of infinite breath, if I understand correctly. – Todd Wilcox Feb 11 at 21:20
  • And it depends on the melody. Its a diifference if one has to play some whole notes or a lot of quavers. – IQV Feb 12 at 8:40
  • And then, at least for single-reeds, there's Circular Breathing. – Carl Witthoft Feb 12 at 18:40

Write the music with the phrasing you want. I'm serious. The performer will figure out if they need to grab a breath, and, if so, where to do it most unobtrusively.

It's analogous to a bowed string player deciding where to switch from up-to-down bow in a long slurred phrase or even a long held note.


Usually a composer should write a solo phrase regarding the breath volume of the solist. If the notes are not to short (in the range of quarters and eights at a speed of 120 bpm the soloist could breath without violate the phrasing. I'm practizing an Euphonium Solo by Erik Leidzen (Home on the range) with very fast 16th and long phrases. So I have to decide if I will play it faster that I have sufficiant air or slow down that I find time for breathing.

Circular breathing is not everyones skill. I'm still trying but it wouldn't match in this solo.

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