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).


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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).

See also[]