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?

  • 1
    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

3 Answers 3


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.


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.


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.

  • 3
    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

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.