A Staccato is a dot we put underneath or above the note. Its function is to divide the value of the musical figure in a sound and silence of the same duration. Observe:
Example of a Staccato
In this example, the Staccato was added to an 8th note. Notice how it divides the figure into a 16th note + a 16th rest. The two figures together are worth the same as the 8th note. Observe that the function of this dot is reducing by half the duration of the note. This is why we have half of the figure + a rest.
See here another example, this time on a Crotchet:
The idea stays the same; the only difference in this example is that the dot was placed above the note. This doesn’t change the function of the dot.
Besides this type of dot, called simple, there are also two other types of dots that reduce the length of the note: stretched and tied.
The stretched reducing dot, also called Abrupt, Staccatissimo or Staccato Grande, has the shape of a triangle that points towards the head of the note. This dot divides the note in 4 equal parts, where the first part is a note and the three other parts are rests. Observe the following example:
Notice as the Half Note, in this case, was divided into four 8ths, where the first is a note and the three others are rests.
A tied reducing dot, also called Soft, Staccato Dolce or Meio Staccato, is represented by a dot and a dash. Its function is dividing the value of the figure into 4 parts, but here, the first 3 are sounds and the last one a silence. See the following example:
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