Portato ([porˈtaːto]; Italian past participle of portare, "to carry"), also mezzo-staccato, French notes portées (Anon. n.d.),[not in citation given] in music denotes a smooth, pulsing articulation and is often notated by adding dots under slur markings.

Portato is also known as articulated legato (Blood 2012).


One type of portato notation, also used for staccato and flying spiccato.

Portato is a bowing technique for stringed instruments (Anon. 2001), in which successive notes are gently re-articulated while being joined under a single continuing bow stroke. It achieves a kind of pulsation or undulation, rather than separating the notes. It has been notated in various ways. One early 19th-century writer, Pierre Baillot (L’art du violon, Paris, 1834), gives two alternatives: a wavy line, and dots under a slur. Later in the century a third method became common: placing "legato" dashes (tenuto) under a slur (Wall 2001a). The notation with dots under slurs is ambiguous, because it is also used for very different bowings, including staccato and flying spiccato (Walls 2001a; Walls 2001b).

Currently, portato is sometimes indicated in words, by "mezzo-staccato" or "non-legato"; or can be shown by three graphic forms:

Portato is defined by some authorities as "the same as portamento" (Kennedy 1994).

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