• Michelle Ostrove

The Difference Between a Tie & a Slur

A tie and a slur can be somewhat confusing to a beginner. They look exactly the same, but have completely different functions. I have attached a picture of a tie, which is the curved line underneath the two notes. So how do you tell them apart?

A tie is a curved line that connects two notes that are the same (two middle C’s), which means they are on the same line or space. The two notes connected by a tie must be the same pitch. It does not matter if they are different rhythmic values (quarter note, half note, whole note, etc.). They are played as if the two notes were one. So if you have a quarter note (one Count) for middle C and it was tied to another middle C that was a half note (two counts); you will play middle C and hold it for three counts.

A slur is a curved line that connects two or more notes. The notes are to be played or sung as smoothly and connected as possible. The curved line can be below or above the notes (for both a tie and a slur) depending on the direction of the stems (upward or downward). As a singer or a pianist you would make the transition from one note to the next note with no silence in between the notes. Legato means the same thing as a slur, but it is written in “legato” and a slur is the curved line.


What’s the difference between trumpet players and government bonds? Government bonds eventually mature and earn money.

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