Colin, that would be popapoms then, er, hope there are no cheerleaders affronted


On 6/21/2011 3:31 PM, cwhill wrote:
So popadoms then :)

Colin Hill

On 21/06/2011 12:18, Gibbons, John wrote:

When I was in a choir, a composer of a piece we'd commissioned explained
legato, poco staccato and staccato respectively as pah, pom, and pop.

For NSP, pah is a no-no, as notes need definite ends.
So the spectrum we work between is somewhere between pom and pop.
Occasional ventures into staccatissimo, as in Meggy's Foot, need a pip instead.

But generally the notes should come out like peas, not lentils.


-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf Of
Sent: 21 June 2011 09:45
Subject: [NSP] Re: Deaf/dead

Oops, outlook tells me I've already sent a reply. I wonder what it said...

Barry, et al.

May I point you to the Dolmetsch dictionary

Thanks, this is very interesting but unfortunately reminds me that dictionaries are not infallible. (I have been working as a professional translator since 1974).

And indeed that musicians and lexicographers cannot always agree on the precise meaning of the terminology they use.

For example, here:

I found: "spiccato: Deutlich, abgesetzt, mit gestoßenen Noten (Bogentechnik bei Streichinstrumenten).
staccato: Gestoßen, kurz, abgehackt. Gegensatz:->  legato"

The terminology here is very vague, and doesn't explain the fundamental difference between staccato and spiccato, i.e. that staccato stays on the string and spiccato bounces. This is further confused by the fact that French-speakers tend to call any bouncing stroke "sautillé" even though this term more strictly applies to the rapid bouncing of the wood of the bow unassisted, as it were, and is related to tremolo. "sautillé" works well on fast semiquavers, spiccato can be used on relatively slow notes. It is performed with the upper arm and the bow reaches and leaves the string like an aircraft landing and immediatly taking off again or like a stone skimmed across water.

Back to Dolmetsch: it does give "staccare (Italian) to detach, to separate each note" as the basic meaning. Then things get complicated. For example, I can assure you that détaché means what I described in my previous posting, as also found here: "Détaché indicates smooth, separate bow strokes should be used for each note (it does not mean detached or disconnected). Notes are of equal value, and are produced with an even, seamless stroke with no variation in pressure."

Not because I necessarily trust this source (for example, it makes martelé and staccato sound like the same thing) but having been trained in Luxembourg (where the system and terminology are very much based on the French model) and Liège - and sometimes by French-speaking teachers - this is what I have learnt that the expressions mean.

Back to Dolmetsch again: it implies that staccato is the same thing as gestoßen (German), détaché (French), piqué (French).

Gestoßen certainly means détaché but piqué doesn't; it means something more like staccatissimo.

So I wouldn't rely too much on dictionaries (for example, what is the relevance of the reference to Monteverdi's use of pizzicato in this context?)

Personally, staccato is a word I use for musical effects and
never for
a piping style. I think it merely confuses matters.

Quite rightly. But it does have a technical meaning for string players.

Sorry if I sound like a know-all, but the above is merely a distillation of what I have gathered over several decades to be the consensus among practising string players as opposed to lexicographers and musicologists and is offered FWIW.


Chris (wer übt, hat's nötig) Birch

To get on or off this list see list information at

No virus found in this message.
Checked by AVG -
Version: 10.0.1382 / Virus Database: 1513/3717 - Release Date: 06/21/11

No virus found in this message.
Checked by AVG -
Version: 10.0.1382 / Virus Database: 1513/3717 - Release Date: 06/21/11

No virus found in this message.
Checked by AVG -
Version: 10.0.1382 / Virus Database: 1513/3717 - Release Date: 06/21/11

Reply via email to