I have played a few Hal Leonard charts recently and I have noticed on some of them a random articulation mark somewhere in the piece where it would be of no consequence and doesn't seem to make sense. The examples I have seen include a tenuto in the middle of a line of crochets, and an accent on a quaver which leads on to a more significant note. It was easy to dismiss the first one as an accident or something I didn't really understand, but I did wonder if there was something more behind it, a feeling which was reinforced by the second occurrence.

This brought up a few questions for me.

Is this an anti-plagiarism measure of some sort, and if so how is it supposed work and is it a common practice? If not, is it intentional for another purpose? Also, should I play with the 'artificial' articulation?


  • Bass line in bar 60, beat 4 here: Youtube link
  • Something like this in the bass line to "The Girl From Ipanema" (this was about the 4th iteration of the same harmony [ostinato?]): Excerpt from "The Girl From Ipanema"
  • 5
    Can you provide an example? A photo or something? May 17, 2019 at 10:46
  • Trust me - a major brand like the Hal Leonard series is not going to risk a copyright violation. As to the markings, without seeing the sheet music it's hard to say whether it's a typo or it's a valid marking that you need help interpreting. May 17, 2019 at 14:19
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    @CarlWitthoft OP means the mark could serve as an indicator of other people's plagiarism, because if they just copied the Hal Leonard sheets, they'd end up with a very specific mistake that could be used to prove that they copied. Dictionaries do something similar, with fake words (e.g. "esquivalience" chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-2005-09-21-0509200275-story.html)
    – user45266
    May 17, 2019 at 14:52
  • Yeah, depending on which pieces you're referring to, it's quite possible that the accents were placed there intentionally to make the score sound more accurate. I know I've placed accents before on off-beat 8th notes that are supposed to be emphasized.
    – Dekkadeci
    May 17, 2019 at 17:34
  • @user45266 I've either been the copier or the recipient of photocopied music since the late 1960s. Nobody resells copies, because the cost of photocopies in quantity exceeds the cost of typesetting a new edition. May 17, 2019 at 18:14

1 Answer 1


If an articulation is omitted in parallel passages then it's a stray, and likely intended to combat other publishers' plagiarism as pointed out in the comments.

If an articulation occurs at a unique point in the piece, as in your youtube example (tutti brass after their long rest), then there's no reason to think it isn't legitimate.

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