The opposite of a > sforzato articulation

• May 13, 2016 - 02:31

As Marc pointed out (, the > as an articulation lasts for only one note value. But Marc, what if I want a soft that lasts for one note value? I don't find the equivalent < articulation. On Wikipedia I found what they call an anti-accent: it looks similar to a U, and they call it a breve. Is this or an equivalent possible in MuseScore? If not, this would seem to be a nice addendum.


There is an 'Unstress above' and 'Unstess below' in SMuFL (and as such in the symbols palette) under Articulations, is that what you're looking for?

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Hey, those are the symbols I saw.
Thanks for pointing that out from the symbols palette.
It would be nice to have those as a standard articulation, or something along the lines of a softer articulation for a particular note. Here's a screenshot from the symbols palette:
These can be used with a negative velocity implemented in the inspector, so it's not a problem.

As a side: that makes me wonder if it wouldn't be cool to add functionality to user-defined symbols. I mean to say that if you add your own graphic or grab a symbol and put it in the palette that it would be nice to some how have it link into a variable definition of what it does. That might be too complicated though.

In reply to by worldwideweary

It would indeed be pretty complicated - consider the marking you add might have an effect on volume but also might have any nof a hundred other effects, and coming up with a design to allow you to customize this would be quite an undertaking - to say nothing of actually implementing it. Basically, if something is standard enough to be worth having, we need to have it on the main palette.

But as far as I know, there is no standard "anti-accent" marking. The "unstress" marking - which is also non-standard, but at least some small handful of composers have used it - doesn't actually mean what you want it to mean, as far as my understanding does. It doesn't necessarily mean to play a note more quietly than otherwise, it just means, don't give it any extra accent even though it occurs in a metric position that might otherwise seem to call for it. In otherwords, it's more like a courtesy accidental in this respect.

And in any case, probably the vast majority of musicians would have no idea what you mean if you placed this symbol in a score. Unless you are copying out a score that uses this and need to stay faithful to the original, it is best to stick to standard markings in your own music, if you want anyone else to understand what you mean.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I also can attest that I have never seen these symbols implemented in any published sheet music.
I think that a < (the mirror image of a >) would be a viable symbol for a soft articulation because of its similarity.
A search through the SMuFL list doesn't have the equivalent opposite of the sforzato > marking. I can always horizontally mirror the standard > articulation in an image program, and I think that would look better than the anti-accent: I mean it would make more "standard-sense."

There are greater/lesser than signs in the SMuFL, but they are much larger than the sforzato > articulation. To use them adjacently would make for bad symmetrical relations.

In reply to by worldwideweary

Yes, I saw that. I can't say I've ever heard of this elsewhere. Parentheses are used for many purposes, I've never heard it suggested they be used to mark a softer note. but maybe there is some specific world in which that is true. The first marking, however, *is* in use outside the world of percussion music - but like I said, it does not really mean what Wikipedia says it means.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Wikipedia, while immensely useful a lot of the time, is not an authority. The section quoted above was added to this page in 2006 by a user who never contributed anyting else, and has remained, "unsourced" as they say, ever since. Does anyone think there is any basis for the claims at all? If not I might just delete it. (You do realise that anyone, just anyone, can add or subtract claims to WP?)

I vote for the introduction of the "U" symbol! :)
I need it for at least two of my scores - not necessarily as a sound effect, but as a mere notation.
It is of course possible to add it later in some pdf editor; still, would be nice to have it available in the symbols palette.

As for the rest, nice work there! I like MuseScore more and more every day :)

Later edit:

Ups! Sorry.
Found it in the General Palette, Symbols, Unstress Above.
Click on the note, double click the symbol, adjust position from the Inspector Palette.
I wrote these indications because I didn't see them anywhere else.

I am new to music theory so forgive my ignorance, but... WHAT? Music is full of notes that are played louder than normal, and SOFTER THAN NORMAL. How can written music not include an accent to soften a note or two? For example, when a song is coming to an end, frequently, the last few notes are just softly touched, particularly if they are bass piano notes. In MuseScore, I can change their volume to make them softer in the Synthesizer by clicking on them and lowering their velocity in the notes menu, but why oh why isn't there notation to put into the sheet music to tell the player to play those last notes softly? Good grief!! What have composers done all of these years?

In reply to by fsgregs

But FWIW, it actually isn't that common to have one or two notes softer than the rest and then return to normal volume. Not saying it never happens, but it is easily 1000 times less common than the reverse of wanting one or two notes louder. And that's why there is no generally recognized symbol for this. In those cases where it is desired, dynamic markings do the job.

That said, a small number some composers do this often enough that they invented their own "unstress" symbol that never really caught on so most musicians won't understand it.

What you describe at the end of a song is totally different - that simply a diminuendo, getting softer at the end. Or a suddenly pp for the last few notes. But the point it, it isn't one or two notes then back to normal - it's just a regular dynamic change.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Ah ... OK. I understand. My problem is, however, that frequently, songs have the last note or two very quiet. In this piece for example, I want the player to lower the volume of the notes from measures 73 to 76, but strike the last note in measure 77 very quietly (a pp sound). Seems I should have a notation to tell the pianist to do that, sort of like the < mark over the last note that I've arbitrarily stuck into the music. Can I not do this, or would a player have no idea what I wanted?
Screenshot 2021-02-12 142735.png

Alternatively, I can use the "pp" symbol, as in this below. Which is a better choice?
Screenshot 2021-02-12 143045.png

Attachment Size
Screenshot 2021-02-12 142735.png 28.38 KB

In reply to by fsgregs

Opposite of "sfz" is unknown to me also.

I see scores with so many articulations and markings that sometimes it's hard to see the notes.

I believe that a score should not be a command sheet to be followed no matter what. Rather, a score should allow the performer to make music. That's their job, after all. Just because a composer marks something a certain way, doesn't mean the performer will always do it. They might speed up or slow down. They might build a passage differently than the composer thought of. The composer might write music, but the performer makes music.

So yes, have that 4 measure hairpin end with the dynamic. The performer might start getting softer sooner or a tad later. They might also slow down, slightly. Or even put the slightest of pauses before the last note.

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