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"Portato" is the right word. It's pronounced "por-TAH-toe". I've heard "portamento", too, but Wikipedia claims that's something else entirely.

I don't have near enough experience to say for sure, but it doesn't make sense to me that there'd be any aural difference between staccato and legato playing if nothing's damping the strings. I suppose it might affect how easy it is to play fast or move your hands up and down the keyboard, but that's not what they're claiming.


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Originally Posted by chopin_r_us
Originally Posted by Olek
Stacato is a shortened impact, pedal or no,
For real?


I couldn't believe what I read either. At impact (between hammer and string), the hammer has already escaped, so how could the length of impact be influenced by either the key or the pedal?


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Yeh. With no dampers all the impacts are identical given an identically applied force. I think maybe there's a translation problem here.

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There are many misconceptions surrounding this subject. I'll do my best to clarify some points.

1. Staccato vs legato with pedal

- Hold the pedal down and play a single note. There is no way that you can make this note sound more or less staccato, by using a "staccato touch", or any other touch: all you can do is control how loud the note will sound. Once the hammer has left the escapement, it's out of your control. The point in time when you release the key has no effect on the sound if the pedal is being held down.

- Hold the pedal down and play a succession of notes, for instance an arpeggio. Now things change: it is possible to give the impression that the notes are more or less legato. How is this done? In fact the notes are never really legato, in the sense that a singer or string player uses the word, but by good phrasing (meaning dynamic shaping and subtle rubato) we can create the illusion of legato. If you play the notes very equally, both in timing and in dynamic level (the easiest way to do this is to play each note with the same finger), they will sound more staccato to a listener than if you play them "espressivo", with the subtle changes in dynamics and timing that go with a beautifully sung phrase.

This is how the best pianists make the piano "sing", seemingly getting the notes to sustain, with each note leading into the next one. They aren't using a particular "touch", with flat fingers or curved fingers or whatever, they have a clear conception in their head of how the melody should be shaped and they listen intently to their own playing, using the feedback of their ears to constantly correct how they play.

2. "Portato"

Portato is a word borrowed from bowed string instrument technique. Here it has a well-defined meaning: you play a series of notes in the same bow stroke, gently increasing and decreasing the pressure of the bow for each note. This creates a series of notes that are almost legato, where each note starts with a small crescendo and ends with a small diminuendo: "pearls on a string". It is usually indicated with either dots or dashes under a slur.

We pianists cannot imitate this effect exactly: we cannot ever start a note with a crescendo. Every note we play has a built-in diminuendo from the start. We can affect the way the note ends, by lifting the key more or less slowly and by subtle use of intermediate pedal positions, but this won't suffice to give the same effect that is heard on a violin.

When in a score we see dots or dashes under a slur, we must use our musical intelligence to decide what effect is desired and how best to produce that effect. How we actually play the phrase will depend on the context.



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Thanks for the explanations, I was talking of the tone denoted with a small line. (I think I did see the dot and small line above too)

[Linked Image]

The amount of energy and of bending within the action make the rebound more or less fast, then in staccato the rapid escapement of the finger from the key make the damper shorten the tone.

The energy accumulation and release that the pianist masters when playing change the way the hammer and action inertia works

That is how I imagine that when testing;

The elasticity of the action parts is perceived, what should be interesting is to compare the action noise by subtracting it from the recordings legato or staccato

I suggest that one can have the impact tone of the key immediately before the tone, when playing a strong stacatto? That make the utmost percussive tone (more than when playing strong and hard, as the whole key is left free to vibrate.

Those noises transfer to the string as a sort of tonal "imprint" and are part of the final tone, being made more present because of the soundboard, and scale. Obviously a percussive tone that aatain the acoustic system with sustain engaged with have a lot of resonant peaks,

while if only one note have the damper up the resonance of the action noise is very different.

Last edited by Olek; 11/12/15 07:33 AM.

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I think Beethoven wrote staccato with slurs over top. He got it from CPE Bach where it actually means bebung only keyboard doable on the clavichord (do lots of bebung and you have vibrato).

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yes above, not under, sorry.

BTW when I want to make a "test blow" to move the string, lower the pitch a hair, or just verify, I us a so short staccato, that it have no musicality, and if I would use it with sustain pedal engaged I would put the strings at risk of breaking.

While I think of it, I agree that the most important part in staccato playing is the way e have the damper returning very fast (when making those extra strong and extra short staccato for tuning, I hear the damper do not rise fully, or not enough to free really the string for long, the tone is stopped before it begin to stabilise, during the hammer impact "crash"



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