Counting Slurs

Counting Slurs

Counting Slurs or Counting Ties can be confusing.  Both are curved lines...but they are not the same.  What are the rules for Counting Slurs or Counting Ties? 

When a curved line begins on one line, but ends on the next line, how do you count it?  Is it one slur or two?  Is it one tie or two?

Can you have Slurs and Ties in the same measure?  How do you tell which is the Slur and which is the Tie?

If you have ever been confused when counting slurs or counting ties, then this Blog is for you!

Here is an example of a Counting Slurs and Counting Ties Exercise:

Counting Slurs - Musette in D Major Exercise

So, how do you complete this exercise?  How many Slurs are in this excerpt?  How many Ties are in this excerpt?  Are you ready to discover the Rules for Counting Slurs?

Counting Slurs - Is there a Difference Between a Slur and a Tie?

Yes!  A Slur is a curved line connecting notes that are at a different pitch.  A Tie is a curved line connecting notes that are at the same pitch.

The value of the notes does not matter.  It's all about the pitch.

Counting Slurs Pop Quiz 1
  • Ti-Do Tip:  A Tie will connect two neighboring notes (notes that are right beside each other) that are at the same pitch. 

If the curved line goes over different notes (even if the first and last notes are at the same pitch), the curved line is a Slur.

Counting Slurs Pop Quiz 1 - Answers
Counting Slurs Starts in Prep 1

In the Prep 1 Rudiments Workbook on page 102, Students learn that the definition of a slur is to "play notes legato (smoothly)".

In the LEVEL 1 Supplemental Workbook on Page 26, Students learn that "a Tie (curved line) connects two notes of the same pitch.  The first note is played and held for the combined value of both tied notes.  Ties usually occur between notes in neighbouring measures."

So, what happens when a note at the end of a measure on one line connects to the a note at the same pitch at the beginning of the next line?  Is it counted as 1 Tie or as 2 Ties?  

When a slur begins in one measure on one line and ends on a measure in the next line, is it counted as 1 Slur or as 2 Slurs?

When Counting Ties, "one" tie has a beginning (first) note and an ending (second) note.

Even if the tied notes are on different lines, the tie is still counted only as "one", as you play the beginning (first) note and hold it down through to the end of the second note.

Counting Ties So-La Says
Counting Slurs So-La Says

When Counting Slurs, "one" slur has a beginning (first) note and an ending (final) note. 

Even if that Slur is stretched over multiple lines of music, it is still only one (1) Slur, as you begin to play legato (smoothly) beginning with the first note and keep playing legato until the final note.  (You do not lift at the end of a "line", you lift at the end of the "slur".)

Counting Slurs - Can You Have Slurs and Ties Together?

Yes!  When a Slur is written over different notes (especially to create a "Phrase"), there may also be Ties within the Phrase.

How Many Ties and How Many Slurs

Now, before you look at the Answers to how many Slurs and Ties are in the Musette in D Major, look back up at the beginning of the Blog and count....

Did you get the Correct Answer?

Answer - Counting Slurs - Musette in D Major

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Shelagh McKibbon-U'Ren


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