In particular, on cello. I got the impression that both are strong (either by pressure or speed) at the beginning of the note, followed by quick release of pressure/speed. What is the difference between the two?

  • Not necessarily - some sfz can be interpreted as "hit it strong and stay strong" Commented Feb 20, 2019 at 13:06

2 Answers 2


I assume you mean the difference between ^ and >. Both signs are used as accents in generally. The correct designations are marcato (>) and martellato (^).

Usually marcato means accentuated and martellato means strong accentuated. So you see that there is only a small difference. And it is often discussed how exactly these two accents are played differently and in particular with a certain instrument (like in your case a cello).

However sforzato and/or sforzando (sf and sfz) are dynamics. They are dynamics and mean with sudden emphasis in the sense of sudden change of the volume.

So summarizing: accents like ^ and > are similar to dynamic instructions like sforzando and sforzato, but they are not the same.


A sforzando(sfz) is the loudest and strongest accent. It is not really considered a dynamic as another answer suggests.

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