In a smooth, continuous way

"Legato" is a musical term that describes a smooth and connected style of playing or singing. It instructs performers to transition between notes seamlessly, without any noticeable gaps or breaks in sound. The word "legato" itself comes from the Italian word for "tied together", highlighting the goal of maintaining a continuous flow of sound.

In legato playing or singing, the transitions between notes are smooth and seamless, as if they are connected rather than individual notes. This technique requires the performer or singer to minimize gaps between notes as much as possible to achieve a coherent and smooth musical expression:

  • For stringed instrument players: Legato implies maintaining a smooth bowing technique while playing the notes to ensure that the sound flows continuously, rather than being disjointed. This often requires precise bow control and skill.
  • For piano players: Legato requires using a connected finger technique to make the transitions and tone changes between notes smooth. This technique helps create gentle, flowing melodies.
  • For vocalists: Legato involves avoiding interruptions in breathing while singing, allowing the notes to flow smoothly from one to the next. This contributes to the expressiveness of a song, making it easier to convey emotions to the audience.

Legato is often indicated in sheet music using short-horizontal line placed above or below the notes. This marking serve as a visual guide for performers, reminding them to connect the indicated notes smoothly.

Legato playing or singing is commonly contrasted with staccato, which instructs performers to play or sing notes with short, detached articulation. By mastering legato technique, musicians can bring out the expressive qualities of a piece, convey emotional nuances, and create a sense of musical cohesion.

Example of Legato

Beginners: Playing Legato