1. A stress or special emphasis on a beat to mark its position in the measure;
  2. The mark in the written music indicating an accent. There are five basic accents, staccato accents, staccatissimo accents, normal accents, strong accents, and legato accents with several combinations possible;
  3. The principle of regularly recurring stresses which serve to give rhythm to the music.

Percussive Accents

Pressure Accent

Strong Accent
Normal Accent
Legato Accent
Light Accents
Strong Accent
Medium Accents

Accent Name


Staccato Accent short and separated from the following note
Staccatissimo Accent an exaggerated short duration of the note
Strong Accent generally meant for attacks at loud dynamic levels of forte or louder
Normal Accent moderately sharp attack that can be used at any dynamic level from pianissimo to fortissimo
Legato Accent this can be used at any dynamic level and is a slight stress without a noticeable attack and held to the full duration of the note

Combined Accents

Strong & Staccato
Strong & Legato
Strong & Staccatissimo
Legato & Staccato
Legato & Staccatissimo
Normal & Staccato
Normal & Legato
Normal & Staccatissimo
Strong Accents
Medium Accents

Accent Name


Strong & Staccato Accents very percussive and shorter duration than notated
Strong & Legato Accents very percussive while retaining full duration of notation
Strong & Staccatissimo Accents strongest percussive attack possible with an exaggerated short duration
Legato & Staccato Accents stressed and moderately short, separated from next note
Legato and Staccatissimo stressed and quite short
Normal & Staccato Accents moderately percussive and short
Normal & Legato Accents moderately percussive with full note duration
Normal & Staccatissimo Accents moderately percussive with short note duration

More about accents


Sousa: The Stars and Stripes Forever
W. W. Norton - 4-CD Musical Example Bank -- Disc 2, Track 35

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