Legato in piano music.
A legato can cover any amount of notes, and can span many measures. Image © Brandy Kraemer


A legato creates a smooth, slurred effect on notes, leaving no audible spaces between them. The symbol for legato is a curved line written above or below a series of notes (depending on their location on the staff), and connects two or more notes of different pitch.

(Not to be confused with a tie, which connects two or more of the same notes.)

  • Because of the way the piano is played, each note inside a legato must be struck individually. However, when playing other instruments – such as a woodwind or a guitar – only the first note in the series will be struck.


The legato’s effect on articulation contrasts that of the staccato.

Also Known As:

  • slur
  • notes liées; liaison (Fr)
  • gebunden; Bindebogen (Ger)


Pronunciation: lə-gah'-doh (U.S.), lə-gah'-toh

More Musical Terms:

  • bird’s eye
  • key
  • a tempo
  • double-sharp
  • 8vb