What is A Slur?

Slurs. Image Courtesy of Denelson83 from Wikimedia Commons

Question: What is a Slur?

Ties and slurs may be confusing to some because it is both represented by a curved line. However, the function of a tie is very different from a slur. A tie is a curved line that connects two notes of the same pitch; the second note is not played but its value is added to the first note. On the other hand, a slur connects two or more notes that have the same or different pitch.

Answer: A slur means you should play a piece of music legato or smoothly. It may also mean:


  • For vocalists, it means that a syllable should be sung to several notes (it should last for more than one note).


  • For bowed string players, it means to play a group of notes in one bow (without changing the direction of the bow).


  • For players of wind instruments, it means to play 2 or more notes in the same breath without using the tongue to rearticulate the notes.

Slurs are positioned either underneath notes (when the stems of the notes are pointing up) or above notes (when the stems of the notes are pointing down).