Slurs are tapered, curved lines that join notes to indicate legato articulation and phrasing.

Depending on the context and the instrument to which they apply, slurs can have additional meanings to simply marking phrases. For example, for wind players, a slur indicates that all the notes in the phrase are played in the same breath and without re-tonguing or re-articulating any notes. For string players, a slur indicates that all the notes in the phrase are played legato and under one bow. For singers, slurs indicate that more than one note is sung to the same syllable.

Slurs can be placed both above and below the staff, depending on the stem directions of the notes to which they apply. In order to keep slur endpoints close to notes, slurs are placed outside articulations on notes in the middle of slurs, but between notes and larger articulations on the first/last notes of slurs. For example, accents and stress marks are placed outside the ends of slurs but staccato and tenuto marks are placed inside the ends of slurs by default.

Figure: Slurs both above and below the staff, including a cross-staff slur

You can change the placement of accent, marcato, stress, and unstress articulations relative to slurs in the Slurs section of the Articulations page in Engrave > Engraving Options.


Slurs must not be confused with ties, which look superficially similar, but instead join notes of the same pitch to indicate that they are played as a single note. In that sense, ties are part of rhythmic notation, while slurs are considered articulation.