- A slur is a curved line drawn across any set of consecutive
notes in the same
part. The slur starts and
ends with a particular note, and can include a minimum of two notes.
- The curved line groups the set of notes together.
- The notes at either end, and any in between the two in the
same part, are said to be slurred.
- This marking fulfils a number of different functions (see
below) and only one of them is strictly called a slur, but
the curved line tends to be referred to as a slur, even if
it is not actually fulfilling that role.
- The curved line can look identical to a
tie, and should not be confused
- A slur is a generic device with several different meanings:
- The most common is an indication of phrasing, and means that
the notes slurred together should be played
smoothly, without any breaks (legato).
- This can apply to a whole phrase, for example 4 or 8 bars,
or a few notes or just two notes.
- In any case it tends to indicate that there is to be a very
slight break at the end of the phrase.
- In vocal music, or music for a wind instrument, this could
indicate where a breath is to be taken
- On instruments where a breath is not required, a slight break
at the end of a phrase (as if a breath is taken) adds to the
feeling of structure of the piece.
- Hierarchical levels of phrasing are possible, in other
words, sub-phrases within a phrase.
- In vocal music, notes slurred together are
all to be sung to the same syllable that is written above or
below the first slurred note.
- In music for wind instruments, notes slurred together should
be played without any tonguing, which give a very smooth effect.
This is simply a slightly more specific indication of legato.
- In music for stringed instruments, notes slurred together
are to be played with one bow, that is, with one bowing
movement, up or down, without a change of direction. This is
also a form of indication of legato.
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