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date: 22 October 2019


  • Matthias Thiemel


The prominence given to a note or notes in performance by a perceptible alteration (usually increase) in volume (‘dynamic accent’); a lengthening of duration or a brief preceding silence of articulation (‘agogic accent’); an added ornament or pitch inflection of a melodic note (‘pitch accent’); or by any combination of these. The term is also used for any of the notational signs used to indicate that such prominence is required. On instruments capable of immediate dynamic nuance, including the voice and most strings, wind and percussion, an increase of volume is usually the chief element in this prominence, commonly at the start (with a more assertive effect), but alternatively just after the start (with a more insinuating effect, for which one specific term is Sforzando). On instruments not capable of much if any dynamic nuance, such as the harpsichord and the organ, prominence of this type can be given, and an effect of dynamic accentuation simulated, by agogic accents. In principle, any quality that distinguishes notes from their predecessors and successors can produce a ‘subjective’ or ‘perceptible’ accent....

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