Slurs, Ties and Phrase Marks

In the above piece of music there are four lines joining notes. What do they mean?

1. Phrase Mark.

The long line joining the first G to the final C is a 'phrase' marking.

Basically this is a unit of music just as a phrase or sentence is a unit of prose. There are different techniques for indicating a phrase, depending on the instrument playing, but generally the last night is slightly shortened, and the phrase volume (dynamic) will rise to a climax and fall away towards the end.


2. Slurs.

The shorter red lines are slurs. this means that the notes under the slur are played as if joined together (legato, like singing) and the last note is shortened. Again, depending on the instrument there will be a technique associated with achieving this effect. For example, with the violin the slur determines the bow direction.


3. Tie

The shorter black line in the last bar is a tie. It is written exactly the same as a slur but the two notes joined are the same. In this case the second note is not sounded, but the duration of the first note is the sum of the duration of the two notes - in this case two crotchets or two beats.