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What is the difference between "SLURRED" and "LEGATO"?
Last post Wed, Dec 05 2018 by William, 23 replies.
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Posted on Sat, Dec 01 2018 19:42
by fatis12_24918
Joined on Sat, Dec 16 2006, Posts 214

 

I'm curious to understand what in the producer's idea was the difference between a "Legato" patch and a "Slurred (legato)" patch, because:

- in my academic background (actually pretty large, but mostly in Italian) I can't remember anything defined "slurred" (if not simply meaning "legato" in English) but a lot of different types of legatos with pretty specific names (e.g. "legato-portato", "lourè" etc.)

- of course it's not "portamento" that seems to have a pretty unique and clear definition and implementation in the sample libraries.

- I did a little research, and also in performance and technics tutorials or academic texts I can't find any definition of "slurred" vs. "standard" legato.

In real life, some technical events/needs have an acoustic effect: e.g. legato changing the bow, legato changing (fingering) position, and cross string legato. Listening to the "slurred legato" patches, I hear a kind of slower transition and little portamento, that sounds sometime like the change of position (and is maybe a good way to simulate it inside a legato phrase, but should NOT be random... but where really the players do a position change instead of simple fingering), but I don't know what was exactly the intention of the creators and the source for the name of it.

Can anybody (maybe from VSL) tell, explain, or elaborate on that?

Posted on Sat, Dec 01 2018 22:59
by Pixelpoet1985
Joined on Fri, Dec 23 2016, Germany, Posts 121

I never liked that VSL called the patch "legato_slur". It's confusing ...

For me, "legato_slur" would indicate a "fingered" legato, but actually it's a legato patch with a tiny bit of portamento, useful for a finger position change or faster passages and runs.

The correct meaning of a "slur" is simply legato, playing several notes with one bowstroke. It's also called "fingered" legato in other sample libraries. In contrast to a "bowed" legato, changing the bow direction with each note.

Posted on Sun, Dec 02 2018 02:46
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5195

There are - as with many musical notations and expressions - a nearly endless number of definitions of "LEGATO" and "SLURRED."  This can include - with strings - nothing more than smooth transitions, done with bow changes or on the other hand fingerings on a single bow. VSL may be defining "slurred" legato as a legato transtion done by moving the finger on a single bow.  As opposed to the normal "legato"  which can be simply a seriee of smoothly connected notes noo matter how played.  Though you're right it is not clear.

Posted on Sun, Dec 02 2018 09:37
by jasensmith
Joined on Tue, Jan 15 2008, Arizona, Posts 1383

Before I entered  VSL world, I was taught that Staccato just meant shortened unnattached notes in a series but to VSL staccatos are short notes with a very hard attack.  So in scores where I find staccatos written I end up using Portatos/detaches instead because the attacks are softer..

 

I've learned a long time ago, when working with samples, never let the score dictate the choice of articualtions used.  It's best to audition say short portato, staccato, stacc slow, stacc fast, portato fast, repetition and/or performance stacc, portato detache, if you want a series of short notes in a sequence.  Even unattached short legatos might work.  go figure.  Welcome to the world of virtual orchestra.

  


"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There's no point in being a damn fool about it."
- W.C. Fields
Posted on Sun, Dec 02 2018 10:02
by javajam
Joined on Sun, Mar 13 2005, Paris, France, Posts 134

To do it simple, a slur is usually a curved line upon several notes. It just means several notes in one bowstroke like Pixelpoet said. That's the word used in Sibelius i.e.

The Synchron 'slurred' is a kind of slight portamento or better a hand position change. The term is totally inaccurate. We can't use this articulation for an entire line indeed or it sounds dramatically fake.

So, I still don't get why this articulation is called 'slurred'...

Posted on Sun, Dec 02 2018 17:21
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5195

"To do it simple, a slur is usually a curved line upon several notes. It just means several notes in one bowstroke like Pixelpoet said. " -javajam

That is absolutely FALSE.   Strings very commonly play slurred notes with different bow strokes.  

It is necessary many times to play slurred sections of music with different bow strokes because it may be impossible to play all the notes on one bow.  For example - an FF section where the player is just sawing away at his instrument and can only take two notes at a time on one bowstroke beause he runs out of bow.  Or another example is a change between notes that are impractical on one bow and would have too much portamento. Like jumping an octave - with a slur it might often be taken on a different bow bbecause if played SUL it would be too much of a slide.   So a slur in notated music does NOT mean strictly "take it in one bow."  

Posted on Sun, Dec 02 2018 21:16
by fatis12_24918
Joined on Sat, Dec 16 2006, Posts 214

 

Well actually all of you are right in general:

- there is the scoring and historical practice of writing slures for musical purpose 

- there is the real-life technical need of some different bowing and fingering technics for slurred phrases in strings performance

- there is a strange way of referring to them by different sample libraries producers, that doesn't help people with classical or pop music background, since it seems there is not completely direct relations between samples names and theory/practice, but a bit of arbitrary descriptions by producers. 

I suppose VSL did the same, and "interpreted" the "slur" definition to describe a mellow legato instead of a more defined one. I agree with some of you that the patch are more suitable for special purpose, and that's why I was asking if any English naming that perhaps I didn't know, described it. 

I understand from your answers that this is not the case, and so VSL team may comment on the original intention and intended use of the patches. Will they? :)

Posted on Mon, Dec 03 2018 02:00
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5195

That is exactly right. fatis.    

Interesting  how musical terms are interpretated based on each indiviual's whim... including the whim of entire companies.  

My favorite orchestration book, by Cecil Forsyth, is filled with sarcastic comments about this.  

Of course, no one may ever hear from VSL,  There are some things Man is not meant to know.    Only They hold the Key.  

Posted on Mon, Dec 03 2018 09:43
by javajam
Joined on Sun, Mar 13 2005, Paris, France, Posts 134

Originally Posted by: William Go to Quoted Post
That is absolutely FALSE.   Strings very commonly play slurred notes with different bow strokes. So a slur in notated music does NOT mean strictly "take it in one bow." 

Surprising explanation, William... A good composer or arranger knows about bowstrokes and wouldn't write something the players won't be able to play but this is another story.

A slur is a slur. 'Whenever a passage is slurred, all notes within that slur are performed on one bow, meaning that they all are played in one bow direction.' (Samuel Adler)

There's one case which is an exception: when a wide slur includes several bars i.e. It means the player should play as many notes as possible in one bow stroke and have soft bow changes in between. Furthermore, an usual way to get some continuous slurred effect is to split the global slurs between desks or players with different ones so as to spread the bow changes (and thereby rewriting the real slurs on the respective scores then).

Posted on Mon, Dec 03 2018 10:04
by jasensmith
Joined on Tue, Jan 15 2008, Arizona, Posts 1383

Originally Posted by: William Go to Quoted Post

 including the whim of entire companies.  

In addition to interpreting musical terms these companies also create their own.  How would you notate Perfomance Legato for example?

On a written score Legato is just Legato but to VSL there's all kinds of Legato, performance, trill, fast, slow, etc.


"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There's no point in being a damn fool about it."
- W.C. Fields
Posted on Mon, Dec 03 2018 10:25
by mh-7635
Joined on Wed, Aug 04 2004, Posts 185

Originally Posted by: javajam Go to Quoted Post

Originally Posted by: William Go to Quoted Post
That is absolutely FALSE.   Strings very commonly play slurred notes with different bow strokes. So a slur in notated music does NOT mean strictly "take it in one bow." 

Surprising explanation, William... A good composer or arranger knows about bowstrokes and wouldn't write something the players won't be able to play but this is another story.

A slur is a slur. 'Whenever a passage is slurred, all notes within that slur are performed on one bow, meaning that they all are played in one bow direction.' (Samuel Adler)

There's one case which is an exception: when a wide slur includes several bars i.e. It means the player should make as many notes as possible in one bow stroke and have soft bow changes.

 String players will probably change bowing in rehearsal if a better musical result is available and that change will be guided by the phrase and what the composer has already put in as bowing - but only on the assumption that the composer/arranger understands bowing. If they do not, then changes and solutions that may well use seperate bowing within a written slur are a possibility.

As a composer, when I slur notes for bowing, I'd expect them to be played in the one bow as would every other composer and arranger who understands this vital part of writing for strings. It is so essential to understand what the physics of bowing does to the musical effect, along with the musical effects that can only be exploited by the composer at the compositional stage if they are aware of them.

Posted on Mon, Dec 03 2018 10:59
by javajam
Joined on Sun, Mar 13 2005, Paris, France, Posts 134

You're right, mh, it's about interpretation, playing ability and improvements which can be applied 'on the field'.

To get back to the 'slur' definition and Williams' comment, it still stays the same. If ever eight notes are slurred and while rehearsing, the conductor or players decide to split into 2x four slurred notes, here we are. Players split the slur on the score with a pen. Slurred notes are four. What is not slurred anymore is not slurred. A slur implies all notes in one bowstroke.

Furthermore, to get back to the Synchron 'Slur' articulation, it's anything but a regular and usual 'slurred' (one bowstroke) sounding, nore a legato (slurred or not). It sounds like a position change or a slight portamento. It just can't be used on an entire line indeed (except maybe for very fast lines, I didn't check that yet). The term 'Slur' is improper imo.

Posted on Mon, Dec 03 2018 15:20
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5195

mh7635

You are dead wrong.   A slur DOES NOT MEAN ONE BOW -  it is used in music notation for different meanings.  Countless scores have slurs that last for far more notes than can be taken on one bow, and it is not a matter of a composer knowing how to write for strings.  It is just as often used for PHRASING, to indicate a general legato that is accomplished with multiple bows or fingered legato.  And it is not a matter of knowing how to write for strings - string players always figure out their own bowings - often with a concert master indicating how to bow a section - and what the composer writes is only a general indication of bowing.  And that is why a slur marking could never be an absolute indication of bowing.  

Posted on Mon, Dec 03 2018 15:41
by mh-7635
Joined on Wed, Aug 04 2004, Posts 185

Look Kersten, in the context of this discusssion, a slur over notes in string writing is more often than not indicitave of bow changes. Of course I know about longer phrase slurs and other uses, did you really have to clarify that for me, thinking I didn't know? But, given the discussion, my post above was chiming with your pov to a certain extent anyhow, suggesting you are right in some cases, not that you'd see that.  

Oh and by the way, it is always a matter of knowing how to write well for strings and that includes bowing technique if you want to write to a high standard. In all my pro sessions I have only ever had one discussion about alternative bows, so I do know something about it. 

How do you expect a composer to exploit in a creative, compositional emotional manner, bowing techniques that inform and enhance his/her work if they do not t know about them?...well?

Posted on Mon, Dec 03 2018 15:57
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5195

Look mh7635 -

open up your score of Beethoven's 3rd 1st movement bar 140-141.  That is an example of phrasing INDICATED BY A SLUR that cannot be played on one bow and never would be attempted.  

Or maybe you don't think Beethoven knew how to write for strings. 

Don't announce as a fact something that is simply false and expect moronic acquiescence.  

Posted on Mon, Dec 03 2018 16:07
by mh-7635
Joined on Wed, Aug 04 2004, Posts 185

What is the matter with you.....Can't you read? I know about slurs used for phrasing and once more, just for you...I know about bowing. I am not saying anything at all derogatory about long phrase slurs nor am I saying that long slurs are indicitive of ignorance or bad practice.  Modern scoring practice and composing utilises more bowing effects than Beethoven's time and it is that resource that is a wonderful asset to have as a composer because only when you know about it, can you use it and exploit it for your own end....that kersten, is a fact. 

Get your head in it.....

Posted on Mon, Dec 03 2018 16:41
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5195

So in other words we are yelling at each about something we agree on.  

All right, I will cease and desist, and go write some phrasing slurs.  

Posted on Mon, Dec 03 2018 17:00
by javajam
Joined on Sun, Mar 13 2005, Paris, France, Posts 134

Originally Posted by: William Go to Quoted Post
You are dead wrong.   A slur DOES NOT MEAN ONE BOW


Thanks to you I know now that Samuel Adler was dead wrong... That said I don't think I'll put his book to the trash!

We are talking about precise articulations. Yes we know about extended slurs, this is a global and secondary usage and it doesn't help us about the subject of this topic, I mean the Synchron 'Slur' articulation. No need for any endless 'slurred' sterile tiring circular argueing.

Posted on Mon, Dec 03 2018 18:28
by Leslie Sanford
Joined on Mon, Jan 06 2014, Posts 37

Originally Posted by: jasensmith Go to Quoted Post
Before I entered  VSL world, I was taught that Staccato just meant shortened unnattached notes in a series but to VSL staccatos are short notes with a very hard attack.  So in scores where I find staccatos written I end up using Portatos/detaches instead because the attacks are softer..

This is something I struggle with from time to time. Sometimes at lower velocities I can get the staccato articulation to work as a moderately fast detache. The short detache has a softer attack, and sometimes it will work for those passages, other times the attack is too soft. So many variables involved. Sometimes I use both articulations, starting with a staccato at the beginning of a motive then switch to the softer short detache for the rest of the motive. It depends on the phrasing and tempo. At faster tempos, I may switch to spiccato and treat it more like a sautille.

I'm speaking mainly about the solo strings library, but it also applies to chambers strings.

What I wouldn't give for an on the bow sampled detache that worked every time, but I'm beginning to thing such a thing isn't possible. The times I've gotten closest to sounding like a real performance have always involved switching articulations relatively often, sometimes every few notes, are in some cases, every note. Something about that variety that adds an organic flavor.

Posted on Tue, Dec 04 2018 01:18
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5195

"We are talking about precise articulations. Yes we know about extended slurs, this is a global and secondary usage and it doesn't help us about the subject of this topic," - javajam

No you weren't.  You were stating that slurred means one bow, and that is what I was contradicting - so now you have changed the subject.    

The original subject was about samples, not your silly concepts of slurs.   I have had the same question that fatis had about this, and have not used the so-called "slurred legato" articulations.  

But you know what? I am so utterly bored with this -   go ahead, use "slur" any way you want to.

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