Can someone help me understand what the circled notation is instructing in this simple piece by Markham Lee? Are the notes tied? I'm confused as how they can be tied and staccato at the same time. Markham Lee


The notes are not tied. This is relatively conventional notation for portato, which is rather like a "sticky" staccato with longer but still detached notes.

  • Ah thank you very much! Learnt something new today :) – MotherBrain Jan 18 '20 at 13:55
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    Strange that the treble notes aren't portato as well? – Tim Jan 18 '20 at 14:22
  • @Tim Perhaps because the treble pitch changes? That doesn't completely answer it, but that may have been the logic. – Richard Jan 18 '20 at 15:16
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    @Richard - possibly, but the fermata effect is more a sort of volume change, pulsing thing, rather than referencing musical pitches, where here it's almost a sus, hence the question. – Tim Jan 18 '20 at 15:47
  • @Tim The composer is indicating that he wants the treble notes to sound long and legato, and the bass notes to sound as a soft staccato, shorter than the treble notes, but still sounding, given the fermata. It is a nice effect. It matches the diminuendo just before and the pp afterwards. – Andre Jan 18 '20 at 20:58

Although not all engravers make the distinction, it is common to place ties and slurs differently. A tie should be placed between the note heads, while slurs should be placed conspicuously above or below them. In this case, the curved marking is quite conspiciously above the note heads, implying that it is a slur even though the pitch doesn't change.

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