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I hear a few people refer to what looks like an accent as a marcato. Is a marcato a different name for accent, or is it a different way of playing the accent?

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    Be aware that marcato can also be used as a musical direction that applies to several notes at once.
    – Dekkadeci
    Mar 21, 2019 at 0:15
  • Regarding any difference in execution, it would be helpful to know the instrument involved. Winds, strings (plucked vs. bowed), and percussion would all use different techniques.
    – Aaron
    Aug 4, 2021 at 21:20

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We were talking about this just a couple weeks ago in band. An accent (the one that looks like a greater-than sign) we played with a bell tone in mind. Hit it hard and then back off slightly (it does, after all, look like a small decrescendo mark.) The marcato (the one that looks like a pointy hat) meant to hit it hard (and perhaps even slightly harder than an accent) but without the nuance of backing off. Others may interpret them differently.

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It is correct that the sign > is called accent, but it seems like some might call it marcato. But another symbol for an accentuated note the sign ^ seems to be called marcato by others. Personally I am used to using the term marcato as the whole word "marcato" or "marc." printed in the sheet music to indicate that a passage should be played marcato.

Besides the signs > and ^ there are also sfz and fz. Forthermore there is fp which is typical on a sustained note that is supposed to start with a very strong attack then continuing softly. There are other articulation signs that can give some kind of accentuation, like a staccato dot or a tenuto dash but the term "articulation" might fit better on those than "accentuation".

How to perform them can depend a lot of the style of the music, the composer, tradition and interpretation.

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How to execute an accent is the question? It is quite common to say 'hit it hard' but the result is a hard articulation which transfers from tongue to throat resulting in a distorted and brittle sound. A good analogy is making a fast descrescendo using the wind, wind being the focus of the articulation. This will result in a clearer non-distorted accent, larger full fledged sound, relaxed tongue and throat, so clarity and intonation is preserved. Remember: the function of the tongue (among other things) is the restriction/resistance to sound. Thus, a kind of reverse psychology will result in a much enhanced player/ensemble when performing the accent.

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    Hi Randall. Welcome to the site. Just a quick note suggesting you take a second look at the question, which is asking about the difference between the terms and symbols for "marcato" and "accent". You've posted a nice description of executing an accent on a wind instrument, so perhaps supplementing it with a description of marcato execution.
    – Aaron
    Aug 4, 2021 at 21:18

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