Positions of articulations

There are established conventions for the position and placement of articulations relative to notes, the staff, and staff lines, which ensure articulations are always clearly visible. For the smallest articulations, such as staccato marks, correct placement relative to staff lines in particular is vital.

Placement of articulations

Articulations are placed on the notehead side by default, with the following exceptions:

  • In single-voice contexts, marcato is always placed above the staff, regardless of the stem direction of the note or chord on which it is used. In multiple-voice contexts, marcato can also be placed below the staff.

  • If multiple voices are active, articulations are placed at the end of the stem side of a note or chord. This clarifies which articulations belong to the up-stemmed notes and which to the down-stemmed notes.

  • If a note is placed on the middle staff line or on the space immediately on either side, articulations that are less than a space in height are centered in the next unoccupied space. This normally only applies to staccato and tenuto. If a note in the middle of the staff has a staccato-tenuto articulation, the component parts of the articulation are split up and placed in separate spaces.

  • If an articulation cannot fit within a staff space, or if the note is placed high or low on the staff, the articulation is placed outside the staff.

  • If a note or chord is tied and the tie is placed above or below the notehead, articulations that are placed on the notehead side of a note or chord are offset by an additional 1/4 space in order to avoid the end of the tie.

Articulations on the notehead side are always centered horizontally on the notehead. This also applies to articulations on the stem side, except if the only articulation is a staccato or staccatissimo. In this case, the articulation is centered on the stem.

Articulations in tie chains

By default, articulations of force and stress are shown on the first note/chord in tie chains, while articulations of duration are shown on the last note/chord.

You can change where in tie chains articulations appear individually.