Ligature (music)

From Academic Kids

In music notation, a ligature is a symbol that connects multiple notes in some way. The actual notation and meaning of ligatures has changed significantly througout the history of western music.

Ligatures were first used in the early notation of Gregorian chant through the use of neumes. A ligature (connection) between neumes indicated a rhythmic connection between the notes. This system of notational ligatures were first codified by Johannes De Garlandia in the 13th century.

Over the next few hundred years, the system of neumes with ligatures was expanded greatly to include a number of different patterns of rhythms and mellismas.

During the renaissance in the 14th and 15th centuries, a system of musical notation known as white mensural notation was developed. This was the precursor to modern musical notation, and was the first system in which the duration of notes was explicity notated. Because rhythm is notated with the note heads, ligatures were used only when a single syllable of song was spread across multiple notes.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, the use of ligatures became increasingly rare. Their presence was usually just an artifact of printing tradition rather than having any explicit meaning.

In modern notation, a ligature is a symbol such as a slur or phrase mark which connects notes into a single musical phrase.


A ligature is also a device which holds a reed on to the mouthpiece of some woodwind instruments such as the saxophone and clarinet.

A ligature can be made out of either metal, such as brass, or it can be made of leather.fr:Ligature (musique) pl:Ligatura (muzyka)

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