Piano Score to Guitar Conversion: Long Ties

• Nov 21, 2020 - 15:10

What do these long ties mean in piano music? They cover many notes and not notes of the same pitch.



Those are slurs and they are used for phrasing. Sections under these are played more legato than sections without the phrasing slurs.

If you have a very keen ear (I don't) you can hear the difference on playback in MuseScore.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

This was a piano song that was asked about. If the piece were from a string (like violin) or a wind instrument, the meaning would have been different for those musicians than it is for a piano or guitar.

The slur in the example is relatively short, so unless the tempo is something like 8th = 40BPM, any decent string or wind musician can play it in one breath or bow. String players would play it in one bow stroke while wind musicians would not tongue each note under the slur. The technique for a piano or guitar player is a little different since they must strike each note in some manner. Legato on these instruments is generally more noticeable than on pianos and guitars.

In reply to by yonah_ag

Like I said, the technique is different on a guitar than a clarinet. There is a difference between a tie and a slur. A tie means add the duration of the two notes together and hold it for that long.

I don't play the guitar, so I'm not sure of the different techniques used for legato and slurs. I've played a variety of wind instruments and for a short time the violin so I know much more about those types of instruments.

FYI, on any instrument where the slur is longer than the capability of an average musician to play without changing bow direction or breathing, the slur becomes a phrase marking as well. With multiple musicians on a part, the musicians will stagger their breathing or bow changes to keep the overall effect as legato as possible. With a single player, they try to minimize the impact of the need to breath or change bow directions. I would actually breath a bit more often in a long phrase so each breath would be less noticeable. Better musicians than me would cycle breath, that is breath in through the nose while forcing the air out of the mouth using the cheeks rather than the diaphragm.

I'm familiar with the terms hammer-on and pull-off but not their meanings. Does this mean to pluck the string once and add or remove fingers from the string to "slur" the notes together? If so this is the same idea as a wind player not tonguing between notes or the violinist not changing bow directions. They can do this for several measures rather than a few notes like on a guitar.

In reply to by mike320

I only play guitar so it's interesting to hear about techniques on other instruments. Breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth at the same time feels impossible, (I've just tried), so I'll have to take your word for it.

Yes, hammer-on and pull-off are ways of playing 2 consecutive notes with only 1 pluck, using the fretting hand to play the second note. You hammer-on to a higher note or pull-off to a lower note.

You wrote:
What do these long ties mean in piano music? They cover many notes and not notes of the same pitch.

Slurs have meaning for other instruments besides piano.
Here's an example for guitar:

Since MuseScore's playback doesn't really honor slur playback for all instruments (and one needs a keen ear to hear when it does), I have used the piano roll editor for the example.


In reply to by yonah_ag

No objections here. Use freely as you desire.
As you can see (and hear) staccato, legato are not rigorously shown as durations but rather symbols.

BTW: I have been following this discussion (you have participated):
as it relates to musical notation & human performance compared to musical notation & software playback.

You, as a guitar TABber, have probably encountered early forms of guitar tablature (i.e., made with a typewriter - and still around today) which lack much performance detail, some even lacking note durations. Hence the various flavors of TAB have evolved, each with a different level of notation complexity/precision.

Regarding standard music notation, things like slurs, staccato, fermata, glissando, can be "written out" with precise note values, but are instead 'symbolized' for a human performer to read...
...which is partly why MIDI import of a "human performance", rigorously translated into written notation, produces perfect (software) playback - but looks a mess to a human musician.

Of course, way back in the day, no one was trying to make computers "play music like a human" and so standard notation fit the bill for hundreds of years.

In reply to by Jm6stringer


I have seen Plain Text TAB but my guitar playing days only started around the time of Guitar Pro 6 and tab scoring had evolved by then. I have moved totally to MS because of the level of control that I have with scores, e.g. colour coding fret number fingering.

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