glissando

"Glissando" (plural: glissandi, abbreviated gliss.) is a glide from one pitch to another. It is an Italianized musical term derived from the French glisser, to glide.

Glissando vs. Portamento

Prescriptive attempts[1] to distinguish the glissando from the portamento by limiting the former to the filling in of discrete intermediate pitches on instruments like the piano, harp and fretted strings have run up against established usage[2] of instruments like the trombone and timpani. The latter could thus be thought of as capable of either 'glissando' or 'portamento', depending on whether the drum was rolled or not. The clarinet gesture that opens Rhapsody in Blue could likewise be thought of either way, being originally for piano, but is in practice played as a portamento and described as a glissando. In cases where the destination and goal pitches are reduced to starting and stopping points as in James Tenney's Cellogram, or points of inflection, as in the sirens of Varèse's Hyperprism, the term portamento (conjuring a decorative effect) seems hardly adequate for what is a sonorous object in its own right and these are called glissando.

'Discrete glissando'

On some instruments (e.g., piano, harp, xylophone), discrete tones are clearly audible when sliding. For example, on a piano, the player can slide his/her thumb or fingers across the white or black keys, producing either a C major scale or an F# major pentatonic (or their relative modes). On a harp, the player can slide his/her finger across the strings, quickly playing the separate notes or even an arpeggio (for example b, c flat, d, e sharp, f, g sharp, a flat). Wind, brass and fretted stringed instrument players can effect an extremely rapid chromatic scale (ex: sliding up or down a string quickly on a fretted instrument), going through an infinite number of pitches. Arpeggio effects (likewise named glissando) are also obtained on the harmonic series by bowed strings and brass, especially the french horn.

'Continuous glissando' or Portamento

Musical instruments with can effect a portamento over a substantial range. These include unfretted stringed instruments (such as the violin, viola, cello and double bass and fretless bass guitars), stringed instruments with a way of stretching the strings (such as the guitar or sitar), wind instruments without valves or stops (such as the trombone or slide whistle), timpani (kettledrums), electronic instruments (such as the theremin, the ondes martenot, synthesizers and keytars), the water organ, and the human voice. The musical saw, or "singing saw" plays entirely in a glissando.

Portamenti can be produced over a limited range on most instruments; for example, fretted stringed instruments (such as the guitar or mandolin) can effect a portamento by pushing the string across the fingerboard or by using a slide. This is commonly called note bending rather than a portamento. Brass and wind instruments such as the flute or trumpet can effect a similarly limited slide by altering the breath pressure, while the clarinet can achieve this by slowly dragging fingers off tone holes. The trombone is especially conducive to producing portamenti of up to an augmented fourth, though the effect is limited by the slide position and partial of both notes involved. Tunable percussion instruments such as the drum or conga can effect this by applying or releasing pressure on the head while striking.

On many electric guitars, the vibrato arm (often mistakingly referred to as a tremolo bar or "trem") - if the particular guitar has such a device installed - can also produce a portamento. By pressing the arm towards the body of the guitar, the guitarist moves the bridge of the guitar both away from the body and forward (towards the headstock), thereby decreasing string tension and lowering the pitch any notes that are sounding. This technique can often produce portamenti of incredible range, with the guitarist often being able to reduce tension to the point that the strings become slack. Such a portamento however is rarely used to melodic effect, instead being implemented as a special effect. Some guitars feature a vibrato that is also capable of being pulled away from the guitar body, resulting in an increase in string tension and therefore an increase in pitch. While the range of these upward portamenti is also often quite large, caution must be exercised when raising the pitch substantially, as the tension can become great enough to break one or more of the guitar's strings.

Portamento can often be generated automatically on synthesizers, where a parameter setting can be used to control the speed at which an oscillator moves to a new pitch. Often this parameter is called glide. Alternatively, portamento effects can be produced manually by a skilled player by the use of the pitch wheel at the side of most synthesizer keyboards. Synth lines with lots of portamento defined West Coast G funk of the mid 1990s, and continue to be a distinctive part of electronic music today, as well as progressive rock music (see Dream Theater's Jordan Rudess.)

In MIDI sequencing, portamento can be generated by using a channel message that creates a sliding effect by smoothly changing pitch from the last note played to the pitch of the currently playing note.

The Casio CZ-101 was one of the first synthesizers to have a polyphonic portamento effect.

References

1. ^ Harvard Dictionary of Music
2. ^ ibid.

See also

Pitch is the perceived fundamental frequency of a sound. While the actual fundamental frequency can be precisely determined through physical measurement, it may differ from the perceived pitch because of overtones, or partials, in the sound.
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a, à (Fr) – at, to, by, for, in, in the style of
  • a 2 – see a due in this list
  • aber (Ger) – but
  • a bene placido – up to the performer
  • a cappella – in the manner of singing in a chapel; i.e.
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  • Portamento is a musical term primarily denoting a vocal slide between two pitches and its emulation by instruments such as the violin, and in 16th century polyphonic writing refers to an ornamental figure.
    ..... Click the link for more information.
    The trombone is a musical instrument in the brass family. Like all brass instruments, it is a lip-reed aerophone; sound is produced when the player’s buzzing lips (embouchure) cause the air column inside the instrument to vibrate.
    ..... Click the link for more information.
    Timpani (also known colloquially as kettle drums) are musical instruments in the percussion family. A type of drum, they consist of a skin called a head stretched over a large bowl commonly made of copper.
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    Rhapsody in Blue is a musical composition by George Gershwin for solo piano and jazz band written in 1924, which combines elements of classical music with jazz-influenced effects.
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    James Tenney (August 10, 1934 - August 24, 2006) was an American composer and influential music theorist.

    Tenney was born in Silver City, New Mexico, and grew up in Arizona and Colorado.
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    siren is a loud noise maker. The original version would yield sounds under water, suggesting a link with the sirens of Greek mythology. Most modern ones are civil defense or "air raid" sirens, tornado sirens, or the sirens on emergency service vehicles such as ambulances, police
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    Edgard Victor Achille Charles Varèse (December 22, 1883 – November 6, 1965) was an innovative French-born composer who spent the greater part of his career in the United States. The record label Varèse Sarabande Records is named after him.
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    In music a sound object (objet sonore: Pierre Schaeffer 1959, 1977, p.95), a generalization of the concept of a musical note, is any sound from any source which in duration is on the time scale of 100 ms to several seconds.
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    piano is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It produces sound by striking steel strings with felt hammers that immediately rebound allowing the string to continue vibrating at its resonance frequency.
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    The harp is a stringed instrument which has the plane of its strings positioned perpendicular to the soundboard. All harps have a neck, resonator and strings. Some, known as frame harps, also have a forepillar; those lacking the forepillar are referred to as
    ..... Click the link for more information.
    xylophone (from the Greek meaning 'wooden sound') is a musical instrument in the percussion family which probably originated in Indonesia. [1] It consists of wooden bars of various lengths that are struck by plastic, wooden, or rubber mallets.
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    C major

    Relative key A minor
    Parallel key C minor
    Component pitches
    C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C
    See also: C minor


    C major (often just C or key of C
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    arpeggio is a broken chord where the notes are played or sung in succession rather than simultaneously. The word, like many other musical terms, originates from Italian, in which it means "in the manner of the harp.
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    The horn (also known as the French horn) is a brass instrument descended from the natural horn that consists of tubing wrapped into a coiled form. Modern horns have three, four, or five finger-operated keys to help control the pitch.
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    A musical instrument is a device constructed or modified with the purpose of making music. In principle anything that, produces sound, and can somehow be controlled by a person playing it, can serve as a musical instrument.
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    Portamento is a musical term primarily denoting a vocal slide between two pitches and its emulation by instruments such as the violin, and in 16th century polyphonic writing refers to an ornamental figure.
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    ''For the Anne Rice novel, see Violin (novel)


    The violin is a bowed string instrument with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest and highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which also includes the viola and
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    The viola (French, alto; German Bratsche) is a bowed string instrument. It is the middle voice of the violin family, between the upper lines played by the violin and the lower lines played by the cello.
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    violoncello, usually abbreviated to cello, or 'cello (the c is pronounced [tʃ] as in the ch of "check"), is a bowed stringed instrument, a member of the violin family.
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    double bass (also known as the contrabass, string bass, upright bass, bull fiddle, or simply bass) is the largest and lowest pitched bowed string instrument used in the modern symphony orchestra.
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    The electric bass guitar (or "electric bass") is a bass stringed instrument played with the fingers by plucking, slapping, popping or using a pick. The bass is typically similar in appearance and construction to an electric guitar, but with a larger body, a longer neck and scale
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    The guitar is a musical instrument with ancient roots that is used in a wide variety of musical styles. It typically has six strings, but four, seven, eight, ten, and twelve string guitars also exist.
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    The bass sitar (Hindi/Sanskrit: सितार्, Urdu/ ستار) is a plucked stringed instrument. It uses sympathetic strings along with a lond rod and a gourd resonating chamber to produce a very harsh sound.
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    The trombone is a musical instrument in the brass family. Like all brass instruments, it is a lip-reed aerophone; sound is produced when the player’s buzzing lips (embouchure) cause the air column inside the instrument to vibrate.
    ..... Click the link for more information.
    A slide whistle (variously known as a swanee whistle, piston flute or less commonly jazz flute) is a wind instrument consisting of a fipple like a recorder's and a tube with a piston in it.
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    Timpani (also known colloquially as kettle drums) are musical instruments in the percussion family. A type of drum, they consist of a skin called a head stretched over a large bowl commonly made of copper.
    ..... Click the link for more information.
    The theremin (originally pronounced [ˈteremin] but often anglicized as [ˈθɛɹəmɪn] [1]), or thereminvox
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    The ondes Martenot (IPA: [õd maʀtəno]; French for "Martenot waves"; also known as the ondium Martenot, Martenot and ondes musicales) is an early electronic musical instrument with a keyboard and slide, invented in 1928 by Maurice Martenot and
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