Slur (music)

A slur is a symbol in Western musical notation indicating that the notes it embraces are to be played without separation (that is, with legato articulation). A slur is denoted with a curved line generally placed over the notes if the stems point downward, and under them if the stems point upwards.

\override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f \relative c'' {
        a4( b c d e f g a)
An A-minor natural scale under a slur

Prime functions of the slur in keyboard music...are to delineate the extent of a phrase line and to indicate the legato performance of melodies or arpeggiated chords.[1]

Both accents and slurs relate directly to woodwind articulation...(and brass as well) [since they] employ a variety of tonguing effects [which are indicated by use of, "the correct form," of accents and slurs].[2]

[With bowed string instruments] A curved slur over or under two or more notes indicates that these notes are to be connected...Slurs are only partially indicative of phrasing; if an actual phrase mark is necessary (to unite several bow-strokes into a larger melodic idea), it should be notated above the passage with broken lines.[3]

The example below shows two measures in 6
with a slur for each measure:

\relative c'' {
  \set Staff.midiInstrument = #"violin"
  \key e \minor \time 6/8
  e16( dis e fis g b, c d e gis, a b)
  c( e, f g! a c, d e f g a b)


G run in G major variation[4] contains slurs indicating both hammer-ons and a pull-off

Slurs mean different things for different instruments:

A slur can be extended over many notes, sometimes encompassing several bars. In extreme cases, composers are known to write slurs which are near-impossible to achieve; in that case the composer wishes to emphasise that the notes should be performed with as much legato as possible.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Read, Gardner (1969). "Keyboard Notation", Music Notation, p. 314. Crescendo, Taplinger: New York. ISBN 0-8008-5453-5.
  2. ^ Read (1969). "Woodwind Notation", p. 347.
  3. ^ Read (1969). "String Notation", p. 402
  4. ^ Traum, Happy (1974). Bluegrass Guitar, p. 25. ISBN 0-8256-0153-3.