Music 101: What Is the Difference Between Legato and Staccato?

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Sep 2, 2022 • 4 min read

When a composer notates music on a page, she will almost invariably indicate pitches, note durations, and perhaps chords. These markings tell a player what notes to sound and for how long. But they don’t necessarily tell the player how to sound those notes. The notes could come out in a fluid continuous run, or they could be chopped up into shorter, more percussive durations. The difference between these styles of playing is the difference between legato and staccato.