Uses of the curved line in music

phrase mark

Fig 3. The phrase mark.

syllable mark

Fig 4. The syllable mark.

portamento mark

Fig 5. The portamento mark.

The tie or bind


Fig 1. The tie or bind.


In the tie or bind, the two notes become one. See separate article on the tie.


The slur


Fig 2. The slur.


In the slur or legato, all the notes affected by the curve are to be played smoothly. In string music they are to be played with one movement of the bow. See separate article on the slur.


The phrase mark

See Fig 3 and separate article on phrase.


The syllable mark

This mark is to make clearer the fitting of the notes to the syllables (see Figure 4).


The portamento mark

Instead of jumping cleanly the singer is to slide from the one note to the other, taking all intervening pitches en route (Fig 5). The same effect is possible on bowed instruments, but here a waving line is sometimes the indication. See separate article on portamento.