Staccato and Other Music Articulation

staccato music

Staccato is a musical term. It is there to dictate how a piece of music should be played. This is also known as articulation. Musicians don’t only need to be able to read notes and rhythms, they must understand the various symbols and phrases that also make up the instructions of the music. These are the fundamentals of music theory. In today’s blog, we’ll discuss what staccato is as well as touch on other music articulation that is important to know. 

What is Staccato?

Staccato is a type of musical accent. It is notated by a small dot ( . ) above or below the head of a note. When performed, the musician makes the note sharply detached or separated from other notes. It will also sound considerably shorter than how the note is played if there’s not a staccato. 

Dive deeper into music theory with Lydia B.

Other Accent Notation

There are also other accents that exist in music notation. Some can even be played at the same time. 

An Accent

An accent is notated by a side-ways v shape (>) placed above or below the head of a note. It is articulated as an emphasis, stress, or strong attack. It can also be played with a staccato articulation to create a short detached attack. 


In music notation, a tenuto is show as a flat line ( _ ) either above or below the note head. It directs the performer to play the note for its full length, sometimes a little held back. 


A slur in music is a curved line that encompasses two or more notes. It tells the musician to play those notes together smoothly and also shows the phrasing of the piece. 


A pause (or fermata) is shown by this symbol (𝄐) placed either above or below a musical note or rest. This musical notation indicates that the note should be held beyond its normal duration. Pauses are at the discretion of the performer or conductor. 

Learn more about reading music with Kim J.

Other Music Articulation

There are also other types of articulation that make up basic music theory. Like all notation, they are essential in providing instructions to the performer about how the music should be interpreted.


Dynamics tell a musician how quiet or loud what they’re playing should be. 

Italian Terms

Italian words are often used to provide further instructions for how the music should be played. These can concern themselves with tempo (the speed of the piece) and the style of the music. 

About the Author

Lydia B.

Lydia B.

Lydia B. is a Marketing Coordinator and Music Club Coach for Gooroo, a tutoring membership that matches students to tutors perfect for them based on their unique learning needs. Gooroo offers Math, English, SAT, Coding, Spanish tutoring, and more.