When approaching a note, whether it’s playing piano or singing a song, there are different ways to approach a note. For instance, to play or sing with force, loudness or soft and connected are a few different ways. How to approach a note in singing is called vocal onset. We will discuss the different ways to approach a note while singing or playing the piano (or any other instrument).

Staccato: You must strike the keys or sing the note a certain way. It’s a very short, sharply detached or separated note from the others. It looks like a dot that is placed above or below the note.

Legato: This is when you sing or play notes smoothly and connected together. It can be indicated by a curved line called a slur or it can be written in the music notation.

Accents: This means to hit or sing the note louder and it is placed above or below the note. An accent mark looks like this >, which you will find in music notation. For a singer, you will add a little more emphasis or volume from the diaphragm and it’s usually at the beginning of a word, but not always.

Vocal Onset: There are four kinds of vocal onset which are balanced onset, aspirate onset, glottal (or hard) attack and vocal fry which we will address in depth in another blog.

When playing piano, articulation has to do with the way you strike a piano key to make the desired sound. Striking the key, playing the note, singing the note is all in reference to how you approach a note. Listen to your favorite song and notice the way the singer approaches the verses and chorus, phrase by phrase, word by word. The attached video with Kristie Nguyen playing “The Theme From Symphony No. 7”. Notice how she approaches the notes, you can see her perfect form as her fingers jump as she plays those staccatos!

Joke for the Day:

What do you get if you cross a sweet potato and a jazz musician? A yam session