I have a number of pieces that feature the following articulation symbols (highlighted in red; last bar of Andy Firth's "The Bullfrog Bounce"):

Articulation example

I've asked my teacher how to play them, but his explanations were very vague. Since I do not know even what they're called, it is impossible for me to find any materials. The articles I've discovered do not feature either symbol.


1 Answer 1


(Italian "martellato") is a symbol used to denote a strong accent, usually a rhythmic thrust followed by a decay of the sound. > (Italian "marcato") is a "lighter" version of the same accent. In jazz scores, like the one in the question, it usually also means that the note is supposed to be played for approximately ​2⁄3 of its normal duration.

With the saxophone, the effect can be achieved by adjusting the embouchure or introducing a drop in the jaw.

I'd like to thank Your Uncle Bob and replete for providing the links explaining those symbols.

  • 2
    Be aware that some people call the ^ a marcato, and > an accent. Just to make life confusing.
    – endorph
    Commented Mar 12, 2019 at 7:28
  • @endorph, thank you. It made the Wikipedia article more confusing indeed.
    – Pyromonk
    Commented Mar 12, 2019 at 7:29
  • it doesn't matter how you call it, the meaning and interpretation is correct. There are lots of different spellings by different languages and in other countries or other styles. Commented Mar 12, 2019 at 9:33
  • Dolmetsch has pretty good page on accents: dolmetsch.com/musictheory21.htm#accent
    – Tom Serb
    Commented Mar 12, 2019 at 10:16
  • 1
    @Albrecht_Hügli it will matter the first time someone says "play that with an accent" and the OP only knows it as a marcato. So, I think it's a valid point.
    – b3ko
    Commented Mar 12, 2019 at 11:37

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