By default legato or non legato?

• May 5, 2024 - 20:02

Dear musicians, I have some misunderstanding. Please tell me, do pianists use legato or non legato by default when playing the piano? Some argue that by default it should be legato, although this is the first time I've heard about it (maybe only in my country it works differently). After all, non legato has no articulatory designations (with the exception of verbal instructions, which can only be of a reminiscent nature). And legato has a traditional designation (verbal instructions and slurs). And if you say that legato is used by default, then what is the point in the existence of articulatory and verbal designations for legato, if it is already used by default?
I would like to hear your opinion on this matter, and if you think one way or another, I ask you to give arguments in favor of your opinion. I apologize in advance if my question may seem silly from the point of view of understanding music.


I would say that legato is one end of the spectrum and staccatissimo, the other. Tenuto lies between, but markedly closer to legato. Staccato, closer to staccatissimo, (Duh!) But where on that scale I play some particular set of notes with no articulation depends entirely on the nature of the piece. There is no "default".

Context, context, context!

That said, my piano teacher always had me playing "smoothly" when there was no articulation. She definitely wanted those notes closer to tenuto than to staccato.

In reply to by TheHutch

That's what I'm thinking too. It all depends on the genre of the song and the tempo. It's just that some argue that legato should be used by pianists in real life by default.
Personally, my opinion is that by default it is non legato (if not in real life, then at least in Muse Sounds). non legato is a separate playing technique (not the same as any other technique except legato, for example staccato, staccatissimo, etc.). That's how they explained it in my school. If it is necessary that the pianist played legato, then there are as many as two ways to do this: verbal instructions and slurs. Even if it is clear from the tempo and nature of the work that it should be legato, it is still better to play non legato, since sometimes it is not entirely clear, due to the absence of the two phrases mentioned above.
Conclusion: if there are no articulations in the score, then you have to play non legato. If you want a pianist to play legato, write about it, is it difficult? You should not rely on the understanding and guesses of the performer about the style in which you should play here.
In general, I'm more concerned about playing not in real life, but in Muse Sounds, because legato is everywhere there. And the most annoying thing is that it is used by default. Listeners who like calm, beautiful music can get high from this, but those who like "harder" music, this default playback style can be crazy. Therefore, there are many arguments for making non legato the default. If anyone wants to listen to this in legato style, then please let them put the appropriate notes.

By the way, here's another quote, earlier than the previous one
from Daniel Gottlob Türk (Klavierschule, 1789):

"When notes are played in the ordinary manner, that is, neither staccato nor legato, the finger should be lifted shortly before the written value of the note requires it."

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