Marcato playback: when will they ever learn

I don’t know why ^ is always programmed to be played louder then > .
This is such a common mistake, and classical music theory is to blame.

I can not emphasize enough that current notation programs do not pay enough attention to standard modern music theory, thus neglecting popmusic, jazz, brassband, wind band and musical writers etc. etc.

Dorico should change this.

But here is the pain:

writing a. big band score, Latin music:

The playback is a disaster: the quarter notes with ^ are played louder but not shorter.

Now, in the latest update, here is what Dorico did, or in fact, what Wallander did to Dorico:

So, no override possible here. Now it is no longer in Dorico’s hands? Really?

Why do all notation programs mess this up?

In modern music, ^ is played short.
> stands for louder, ^stands for louder AND short.

How will this be resolved?

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I’ve not really heard of this interpretation, and I don’t know if that rule would be understood or followed by everyone, so I wouldn’t regard it as a common and universal rule. I’ve not seen this in any modern music theory book either, so it might be one of those unspoken and “understood” things in jazz. You say “classical music theory is to blame” but marcato literally means marked in Italian – so it would seem modern jazz players are to blame for a divergence from its original intent.

To be less ambiguous, if you wanted just an accent and shortened, I would just suggest an accent or marcato over a staccato mark – which to me would be unambiguous to all players of any instrument and any stylistic background. It will also provide you the playback you are looking for.

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This is a rule for some genres of modern music, such as Big Band and Brass Band…
I would not be the case in many other genres, such as orchestral music, film music, contemporary piano, contemporary concert music, and so on.
In my situation, working in the contemporary music field, marcato stands for what Dorico playback is programmed.
Music is a vast field…


You can always restore the override to the Expression Map.

Though, TBF, Noteperformer isn’t very strong for Jazz and Band.

I see there is a setting in playback options to set the duration for marcato, and another for percent emphasis on marcato. Looks to be an easy tweak.

This is exactly the opposite: if there are no overrides in the expression map’s Playback options overrides, then the Dorico settings (that you can find, and change in menu Library/Playback options) are used. And also as @benwiggy observes, you can still reactivate the overrides in the expression map.

I wold be genuinely curious to see some sources, where these “modern music theory” interpretation of ^ is explained. Could you share some?


Kurt Stone - Music Notation in the 20th Century.
“This sign > indicates a gentle accent, and this ^ a heavier accent” - Artur Fão - Teoria Musical [Translated from Portuguese]

Alfred Handy Guide - Music Notation Dictionary.

Elaine Gould - Behind Bars The Definitive Guide.
Shocking results, I’ve made my case.

Now you do, thank me later. Adding modern adjective to music theory doesn’t make it more credible nor adds anything, it’s music theory, it bears no relevance if it were written Gregorian music theory. Music theory is everything, not just from an era.
Next up on Dorico Skits there will be a Jazz guy who writes staccato to mean legato and gets mad because in his mind no one pays attention to the true music theory…

This is terrible, it just opens up more ambiguity and muddles the… ahem, standard that seems supported by several sources, on how it is supposed to be played. Creates the expectation that the players will execute how the composer thinks, but what he thinks is not what he wrote. We should try and strive to lower vagueness in order not to have these misunderstandings :slight_smile:


Actually in university Bigband, we were told that marcato is long and fat, while accent is more bell like. But explicitly we were told that it’s not short (by necessity), which was the common misconception.
I don’t think a Bigband will ever play a marcato chord on best one „short“, but very heavy and rather long, although maybe not full duration.

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That’s interesting. I’ve been taught that it’s the exact opposite: short. This is specifically for Jazz notation though.


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I am a trumpet player, so we were speaking in terms of articulation with syllables.
While an accent would be something like a „dow“ or „dah“ (meaning a syllable with an open ending), a marcato would be „daht“ or „taht“ (so a stopped ending). The length would actually be similar, but since brass have a tendency to play marcato similar to staccato („dut“, so stopped but short), that’s how it was explained to us: length of an accent with articulation of a staccato.
Listening to recordings of the great players seems to for me confirm this impression.
But this is only for Bigband. In classical we don’t really ever stop with the tongue.

Totally concur with the ending but the marcato accent in jazz was always taught to me by teachers (including horn players) and jazz/arranging reference books as being short - as short as staccato would be.

Edit: I’m not sure what you mean by the length of an accent but the articulation of a staccato. Would you agree that a staccato note is short?

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Yes, in general that would be the case.
But you can play Staccato loud, and marcato doesn’t need to be always ff either, so I cannot describe it better than I have tried with the syllables.
Accent: dow
Staccato: dut
Marcato: duht

We were practicing the articulation by using these exact syllables to speak the music.

But if anything, our discussion here mostly proves that unlike stated by OP, there is apparently no consensus about this :wink:



If the discussions on these pages prove anything, it’s that there’s barely a consensus about anything in notation!


Yes, but latest update prevents having an effect on Noteperformer.

I think we can all agree on that. Or can we?.. :thinking:


THIS is it.
So, in fact the length AND loudness are discussable, according to context.
On a quarter note followed by a rest, I definitely ask my bands to play “duht” (I use “daat”).

I would definitely NEVER let it play as long as a full quarter note, exactly what Noteperformer is doing now.
Also in other modern and even classical music, playing ^ full lenght of the note I consider poor interpretation (and bad conducting for that matter).

May we conclude that we just want to tweak the length in playback options ourselves, like it was before? Why did Wallander force full length upon the newest update anyway?

Take a look at bigband arrangements of modern publishers like Hal Leonard. If you find an accent with a dot combined somewhere, I’ll buy you 10 delicious Belgian niche beers.

With all due respect, you made your Stone-Alfred-Gould case, okay.
And then there is something like how famous jazz musicians all over the world play and conduct what I am talking about.
I got carried away, so indeed ^ is definitely NOT staccato. I should never have said “classical music theory is to blame” either. But just imagine the music I provided played with full sounding quarter notes. Does that feel Latin to you?
Here is the thing: as far as jazz ensemble music concerns, modern publishers never use a > combined with a dot. Or ^combined with a dot.
This is what is going on. Read on: our colleague klafkid is spot on. He describes it far better than me, but this is reality, for decades now.
Rules seem to get outlived and re-written, especially when a “new” culture claims it’s right to co-exist . So it is in music, so it is in life.

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Interestingly, the Berkleeee Book of Contemporary Music Notation says “Slight accent, slightly short” for marcato. (p. 82); but confusingly, it also uses the same symbol as marcato for a “Short / Jazz Staccato / Housetop / Hat”, which it lists as a different thing.