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Accents in Sheet Music

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Stephen S, Aug 27, 2003.

  1. Stephen S

    Stephen S Member

    Apr 10, 2002
    San Bernardino, CA
    As I've previously stated in misc threads around here, I've realy been working on my sight reading, and reading skills in genereal. I have a question. When you see an accented note on a piece of sheet music, what technique do you use to accent it. Do you pluck, slap, or just play a bit harder?
  2. Jeff Moote

    Jeff Moote Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2001
    Beamsville, ON, Canada
    That depends on what accent is written. Also, you need to use some discretion. If you think slapping it will help the music, go right ahead, but you wouldn't be doing that in say, a concert band ballad that you're filling in the tuba role for.

    Basically, use your own discretion, and generally just make it stand out. Not so much a higher dynamic, but just harder (if you know what I mean)


    Jun 1, 2003
    Orlando, FL
    well, i play in my hs jazz band and i would say this:

    it all depends. if you're playing at a P or MP then just pluck it a little harder, your part there isnt too important so that will do just fine. then again, if you have an important or prominant passage then you should make the accents very obvious. use caution though, playing all finger style and then all of a sudden slapping one note is probably not in the best of taste 9 times out of 10, though YMMV. speaking of which, i need to brush up on my upper register reading (all those stupid ledger lines run together sometimes!) soon before jazz band starts back at school :)
  4. stephanie


    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    An accent symbol above a note means to play that note more forcefully.

    _ = a mild accent

    > = a strong accent

    ^ = a strong accent on a staccato note

    Mel Bay's "Note Reading Studies For Bass" book has a nice section on articulation which explains about these accents.
  5. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Actually, Stephanie, the different accents speak to the note length, not the 'strenght' of the accent.

    " _ " = full value accent, legato accent

    " > " = 3/4 value, or marcatto accent

    " ^ " = 1/2 value

    You can actually write the "." with either ">" or "^" over it for staccato accent.
  6. Hmm... I can't really agree with this, I learned it like this:

    "." = staccato, short note
    "_" = tenuto, note held long (basically legato)
    ">" = accento, slight rise in volume
    "^" = martellato, short strong accent, note played louder and short

    And every music teacher I had up to now would agree on this


    Jun 1, 2003
    Orlando, FL
    actually thats the opposite of what i've been taught in the past 6 years of junior high and high school. i've always been taught that that particular accent (a "Marcato" as i've learned) was meant to be accented and then you kinda back off from it, but still give it full value. almost like a bell tone. im not saying "im right; you're wrong" just saying that i've been taught the opposite; its not a rise, but a fall in volume.
  8. No, you are right. By louder i meant just this one note and I simplified it because on electric it's basically impossible to begin the note significantly louder than it ends

    edit: now I see what you meant, but by slight rise in volume i meant louder than the previous note


    Jun 1, 2003
    Orlando, FL
    ugh, tell me about it. i face this problem all the time playing with the marching band. in a few slow movements ill have a whole note with a forte piano crescendo, and they are such a pain to do:

    play no loud
    turn volume knob down a lot
    repluck it to keep the signal strong
    turn volume up

    just such a hassle :meh:
  10. Maybe get a volume pedal? Luckily I've never been in a situation where a conductor has expected an electric instrument to have the same dynamic range as everything else. You've got it tough :D
  11. Well, I played in the school orchestra and I was also expect to get at least close to the same dynamic range, and I did not use a volume pedal, I just practiced controlling the dynamics of my playing with my fingers. (The hardest part of what we were playing was this one part where I had to do a crescendo and decrescendo from mp to mf and back unisono with the sax)

    The best tips i can give for this kind of situation:
    Get rid of any compressors etc. in your signal path and try to minimize your signal path in order to keep as much dynamic range as possible and practice practice practice.


    Jun 1, 2003
    Orlando, FL
    yeah i thought about taking my effects pedal out (and using it for volume) but if you knew how much crap they already expect me to set up and hook up and all then you'd understand why i try to keep it to as little gear as possible. we're talkin bass cable and amp. i dont even take a tuner anymore, i just tune to the brass (which is good because 9 times out of 10 they arent in tune, and if i am then somehow its ME thats automatically wrong) :meh:

    but dynamic wise there is no problem, i can play soft or loud as need be, its just when they expect me to do crescendos and decresendos on one note that becomes a hassle
  13. yeah, taking a tuner isn't too useful, we all tuned to the piano which was centered at 444Hz (not the usual 440Hz)

    Oh, and crenscendos on one note are almost impossible, on electric (and even more so on double played pizz :p ) althoug you could try having your voulme knob set at approx 3/4 and turn up for a cresendo or down for a decrescendo, but this only works for fairly long notes, so in that case a volume pedal might be useful. Another possibility (but which only works for the low notes and only if your sound has very little attack) is to use tremolo picking for long crescendoed (or decrescendoed) notes
  14. stephanie


    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA

    Whoah, thanks for correcting me. Apologies. Actually, I think I'm in the same boat as the original poster LOL. I'm sure you have that Note Reading book, so is the book wrong or am I reading it wrong? :(


  15. I have this book, and i would say: no you are not reading it wrong and what you said is also pretty much what was written in every book about music I have seen up to now
  16. stephanie


    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    Yeah, I was actually looking at that page not but a day ago so it was still fresh in my mind word for word probably LOL.

    My teacher and I are always going over articulation and dynamics and I thought I had it down and understood it for the most part. I might have to bring this book into him again. :meh:
  17. there werent too many words on that specific page anyways :p

    And as I stated before, I would in this case rather agree with you (except on the tenuto as accent... not too sure 'bout that) than with Pacman

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