Chapter 3: Types of portamento in written documentation of the late-18th and early-19th centuries


Chapter 2 established that portamento was being employed by influential singers and violinists around the turn of the 19th century, and most probably in Schubert’s music and professional circle in particular. The next component of historical portamento use is to explore the different types of portamento and their expressive contexts, as documented in texts of the later-18th and early-19th centuries. Knowledge of such variation in portamento types and use will provide us with a better understanding of the sometimes-ambiguous language used in vocal and violin treatises of the time, and of the interplay between the types of vocal and violin portamento and how much current violinists can learn from analysing vocal techniques.

Vocal and violin portamento types

I categorise different types of vocal and violin portamento from written evidence of the late-18th and early-19th centuries and explore the similarities between equivalent vocal and violin portamento types and their suggested execution.

Leaping graces in singing and smooth shifting in violin playing

Many vocal treatises of the 18th and 19th centuries reference the “leaping grace” in relation to connecting notes and executing portamento. Corri, in his Select Collection of the Most Admired Songs (1782), notates a dotted “anticipation” note to connect notes smoothly in his “Anticipation Grace[s],” which most likely indicate portamento (Fig. 3.1). When describing the nature of execution of the grace, he states, “the time for its execution is to be deducted from the last part of that note.”1 The “superior” and “inferior” graces could be interpreted either as an obvious or subtle additional anticipation note added before the “real” sung note. However, Corri unfortunately does not specifically describe how accurate the annotated dotted figures of each grace should be sung or whether the dotted figures are merely added for ease of notation and the final intention of the singer should be a smooth continuous slide between each note.

Figure 3.1: Corri’s “Superior,” “Inferior,” “Leaping,” “Anticipation” and “Double” Graces, often notated with dotted figures to connect the intervals.2


While violin treatises did not notate “leaping graces” (portamento) with specific dotted “anticipation” notes, equivalent smooth shifting techniques can be seen throughout the violin treatises of the 18th and 19th centuries. There are numerous examples of smooth shifting or sliding between notes with the aid of “in-between” (Zwischentönen)3 or guiding tones, both in vocal and violin treatises. When shifting, Spohr suggests moving “the first finger of the first tone, until the finger of the second tone can fall on its place.”4 This can be seen in both examples in Fig. 3.2, where, in the 5th position shifting exercise, Spohr indicates using the initial finger (first finger on E4) to then slide to the guiding note (B4) before putting down the destination finger (4th finger) on E5. Similarly, Spohr indicates using the initial (guide) finger (2nd finger) to slide from E5 to the guiding note (B5) before placing the destination finger (4th finger in extension) on B6. Spohr suggests this method of shifting in order to avoid “unpleasant howling.”5 Later in the 19th century it seems as though the destination finger started to be used more frequently as the guiding finger in shifting, but from my reading of treatises of the first half of the 19th century, the initial finger, as indicated in the examples of Spohr below, was the preferred one for guiding tones in shifting.6

Figure 3.2: Preferred shifting technique indicated by a guide-tone to be shifted with the guide finger in Spohr’s Violinschule.7


Similarly, Ferdinand David also includes exercises to practice shifting with the aid of a guiding note, giving examples for every interval on one string as well as how to execute a shift over two strings for an octave and tenth (Fig. 3.3). He states that, “the finger which takes the first note, is not to be lifted before you have got into the position, in which the 2nd note is to be found.”8 This not only aids in the accuracy of the shift but ensures that a connected tone be created throughout any position change, thus giving the player more control over execution of different types of portamento when shifting.9

Figure 3.3: Excerpts of David’s smooth audible shifting exercises from his Violinschule.10


Another example of guiding tones (Zwischentönen) being advised for both singers and string players is in Franz Joseph Fröhlich’s (1780-1862) treatise of 1811 (Fig. 3.4). The slur placement indicates that the singer or instrumentalist should slide before the destination pitch, and the anticipatory grace note could indicate a re-articulation of the destination pitch after sliding.

Figure 3.4: Fröhlich’s Zwischentönen exercise.11


Sliding with the same finger or syllable under a slur

Two distinctly different types of portamento as a result from shifting are those executed under a slur or between syllables or bows.12 Garcia and 19th-century violinist, Charles de Bériot (1802-1870), advised that sliding “between two notes connected by the same syllable” was the “best manner of employing portamento.”13 Many examples of the distinction between these two main styles can be seen in Clive Brown’s Classical and Romantic Performing Practice 1750-1900, indicating a “leaping grace”14 to be used when sliding between syllables and “the melting together of notes”15 when slurring notes together in the same syllable (or bow).16 David’s early editions of Schubert’s Sonatas for Violin and Piano show a number of examples of shifting with the same finger under a slur over an interval of a third, as well as phrases marked on one string, as seen in Fig. 3.5, 3.6 and 3.7 below.

Figure 3.5: Schubert Sonata for Violin and Piano in D Major, Op. 137, No. 1: Allegro molto, bars 1-19.17 David marks three 1st- to 3rd-finger shifts between E4 and G4 under a slur in bars 5, 11 and 17 and generally indicates for every slur to be kept on the one string, which encourages audible smooth shifting and a connected consistent tone colour throughout.


Figure 3.6: Schubert Sonata for Violin and Piano in C Major, Op. 137, No. 2: Andante, bars 1-40.18 David’s fingerings indicate playing on a single-string throughout the melody and often marks shifts in the middle of hairpins (< >), as we see in portamento exercises in treatises of the time. He even makes a point of always marking the 4-4 shift from Bb5 to Db5 in bars 36-39, which must be an expressive portamento marking, as 4th-finger shifts are quite difficult to execute inaudibly, and it would be much easier technically to start the run with a 2nd finger on the Bb5, so this deliberate marking, especially with the presence of the Db5, would suggest expressive intent.


Figure 3.7: Schubert Fantasie in C minor, Op. 159: Andante molto, opening.19 David marks a descending same-finger (3rd finger) shift under a slur in bar 16 and indicates that the melody in bars 20-24 be played completely on the D string.


Similarly, the fingerings indicated in the excerpt of Haydn below (Fig. 3.8) suggest audible shifts (portamento): an ascending 2nd-4th finger shift from the G5 to Eb6 in bar 19, an ascending same-finger (1st finger) shift from C6 to E6 in bar 20, and a descending same-finger (4th finger) shift from Ab6 to F6 in bar 21.

Figure 3.8: Haydn’s String Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 20, Hob. III, third movement (Cantabile), bars 19-24.20


Other examples of single-finger shifting under slurs can be seen in the Haydn and Lolli excerpts in chapter 2 (see Fig 2.9 and 2.10, respectively) and Baillot’s treatise, where his fingering of a Fiorillo Caprice acts as an exercise in practicing smooth shifting of intervals of a third under slurs (Fig. 3.9).

Figure 3.9: Same-finger shifts under slurs indicated throughout Fiorillo’s Caprice, Op. 3, No. 13, bars 1-10.21


Sliding before the destination syllable or bow change

Vaccai (1832), in the section of his treatise titled “Mode of Carrying the Voice called Portamento,” describes portamento as “either the insensible anticipation of following notes by the vowel that precedes it, or the insensible lengthening of the first note by pronouncing with it the following vowel. Both these modes are effective, although the former is more often used.”22 Like in Corri’s Leaping Graces, Vaccai notates dotted “anticipation” notes to indicate the preferred type of portamento (Fig. 3.10).

Figure 3.10: One of Vaccai’s portamento exercises.23


Like Vaccai, Bayly in his The Alliance of Musick Poetry & Oratory (1789) notated his example of portamento with a dotted rhythm, suggesting a reiteration of the destination pitch.24 Furthermore, Garcia explicitly states that the “second note should be heard twice – once on the first syllable, and again on its own.” He favours the art of anticipation, carrying the voice with the syllable of the first note (Fig. 3.11, A), rather than posticipation, carrying with the second syllable (Fig. 3.11, B), as the latter makes articulation of words less clear on high notes.25

Figure 3.11: Garcia’s portamento exercise.26


Similarly, Fröhlich includes an exercise in the vocal section of his treatise suggesting an anticipation note when singing portamento between large intervals (Fig. 3.12). He also advises referring to this vocal exercise when discussing portamento and shifting techniques in the string section of his treatise. For Fröhlich, vocal technique, particularly portamento, was the basis for tasteful playing of all other instruments, as he frequently references the vocal section of his treatise when discussing various aspects of all other instrumental techniques.

Figure 3.12: Fröhlich’s vocal anticipation exercise.27


Shifting after the bow change in violin playing

While the preferred portamento type in the early-19th century was shifting before the destination syllable or bow change, we do see some instances of violin fingerings indicating shifting or portamento after the bow change. For example, the slur placements for shifts in bars 1, 2, 5 and 6 in Fig. 3.13 indicates shifting after the bow change. However, it is unclear whether Haydn preferred the initial or destination finger as guiding finger for each shift. This movement is light and jovial in character, which may lend itself more to shifting after and bow change as a special effect, as this shifting technique is less subtle than shifting before the bow change.

Figure 3.13: Manuscript and printed editions of Haydn’s String Quartet, Op. 64 No. 6, third movement (written 1781-2, first published 1790).28 Note that Haydn indicates shifting on the same string under a slur in bar 1 (1st to 4th finger on the A string), bar 2 (2nd to 4th finger on the A string), bar 5 (1st to 3rd finger on the A string) and bar 6 (1st to 4th finger on the A string). Again, these shifts are difficult to execute inaudibly, so it is most likely that these shifts were executed with portamento.


Other audible shifting techniques in violin playing

Sliding up to a harmonic

Spohr makes note that “only in [the] case where the highest note is to be taken in Harmonics … it is allowed to use the little finger [4th finger] for sliding on to the highest tone” (Fig. 3.14).29

Figure 3.14: Spohr’s arpeggiation etude, which encourages destination-finger shifting up to each harmonic.30


Chromatic motion/glissando

Baillot draws connection to the voice in the section titled, “Seventh Means of Expression: Sliding one finger through a whole melody,” where he suggests the violinist use the same finger, “sliding imperceptibly on the string” when “the expression and the closeness of the notes to each other require that several notes in a row, which proceed by half step or whole step be slurred without any finger articulation.”31 Similarities can be drawn between this technique and those of Mestrino: namely, his glissando and enharmonic scale exercises quoted in chapter 2 in Fig. 2.3 and 2.4. There are also same-finger shifts marked under slurs in David’s 1850 edition of Mendelssohn’s String Quartet in A Minor, Op. 13, No. 2 (Fig. 3.15). These markings indicate successive audible slides during the same-finger shifts as they are marked under slurs.

Figure 3.15: Chromatic same-finger shifting under slurs in Mendelssohn’s String Quartet in A minor, Op. 13, No. 2: Allegro vivace, bar 115-123, as indicated by David’s blue pencil markings.32


Sliding to and from an open string in violin playing

David indicates to “put down the first finger behind the nut and draw it up to the small note” when shifting from an open string to a higher note.33 Spohr’s annotation of Rode’s Violin Concerto in A minor, Op. 9, No. 7: Adagio (composed c1803, published 1817) similarly indicates brushing the finger over the nut when descending to open string in Brown’s Classical and Romantic Performing Practice.34 David’s edition of this concerto also indicates this fingering as seen in Fig. 3.16.

Figure 3.16: David’s edition of Rode’s Violin Concerto in A minor, Op. 9, No. 7: Adagio, bar 11-16.35 The fingerings under slurs in this dolce passage indicate audible shifts (portamenti): guide-finger (2nd-4th finger) shift from G5 to E6 in bar 12, guide-finger (3rd finger to open string) shifts in bar 12 and 16, successive guide-finger (1st-4th-1st finger) shifts from D5 to G5 to B4 in bar 13, and same-finger (3rd finger) shift from F5 to A5 (harmonic). The shift from the A5 harmonic down to D5 also could be an audible guide-finger (3rd-1st finger) shift before the bow, if David were to continue Spohr’s legacy, as is most probable.


Portamento use in relation to other embellishments in singing and violin playing

Air and bow speed and pressure

While Corri stated that the strength (air pressure) of the slide should be regulated according to the distance of the intervals,36 Garcia advocated for “regular continuous pressure” of air so as not to interrupt the “flow of the voice” (as seen in Fig. 2.1 in chapter 2).37 It seems that the nature of the slides in portamenti were dependent on a number of factors individual to each performer. In singing throughout the 19th century, crescendi are consistently indicated for ascending portamenti and decrescendi for descending. Corri (1782), for his “superior,” “inferior” and “leaping” graces, and Croker (1895), both annotate clear examples of this execution of ascending and descending portamenti (Fig. 3.17 and 3.18).

Figure 3.17: Corri’s graces.38 Note the crescendo and decrescendo markings indicated depending on the pitch direction of the slide.


Figure 3.18: Croker’s advice for portamento execution, first with plain notation and then with annotation advising nature of ascending and descending slides.39


Similarly, both Spohr (in Fig. 3.19) and Fröhlich (in Fig. 3.4 and 3.12 above) indicate hairpins (< >) when shifting or sliding between intervals. Spohr states that when executing hairpins, “the tone is to begin piano or weak, and increase gradually, having in the middle of its duration the greatest force, and in the same way return to the piano.”40

Figure 3.19: Spohr’s shifting exercise on one string with hairpin (< >) signs.41



Bériot notes that almost all the violinists who make too much use of portamento do so while abusing their use of vibrato: “Affectation shown in the use of these techniques renders the playing of the artist mannered, exaggerated, for it gives the piece more expression than is consonant with truth.”42 Katz, along with other scholars, has observed that early recordings show that there was very little vibrato used in general, and especially in executing portamento, which makes the expressive device more effective and less obtrusive.43 Although further in-depth study of the uses and varieties of expressive vibrato is required, it is interesting to note that the amount of vibrato used influences the effectiveness of the use of portamento (along with bow speed, pressure and placement). For example, a fast slide in combination with a lot of vibrato will create a vastly different aesthetic or effect than a fast slide with little to no vibrato, or only some vibrato either before or after sliding. Both examples can be used to great effect but may not always be appropriate, depending on the character indication of the music. This sort of sensitivity to the use of vibrato in relation to other expressive devices should be considered when modern violinists experiment with portamento in their playing, especially as we now live in a world where continuous vibrato is the norm in violin playing and is often used without considering its expressive effect.

Nature and speed of slide

Fröhlich stated that descending portamenti must be faster than ascending, and the more distant the interval the faster the slide. However, he did not indicate whether the speed of the slide should be influenced by the sentiment of the piece.44 We can see more detailed descriptions of the nature of portamento slides as the century develops. Clive Brown’s extensive analysis of Charles de Bériot’s treatise shows us the three different types of portamento (port de voix) described and graphically indicated by the violinist (Fig. 3.20).45 The shapes of these types can be described as mathematical equation shapes: 1) linear (steady speed of pitch change), 2) positive exponential growth (starting slow then gradually increasing speed of pitch change as the destination pitch is approached), and 3) either parabolic (gradual decreasing and then increasing speed) or more pronounced positive exponential growth. It is difficult to determine whether the notation of the third portamento type indicates a slight dip in pitch before starting the ascending portamento but I would assume that Bériot’s notation simply intended a slower increase in pitch for this type of portamento than the others, as I have not heard any early recordings of portamento use where the singer or violinist dips in pitch before starting an ascending portamento.46

Figure 3.20: Bériot’s three types of portamento in violin playing, based on vocal style.47


Portamento used with rubato

Portamento was often associated with “dragging” and altering the rhythm of phrases for affect. As Bayly stated:

Dragging [portamento] is much the same motion as that of gliding [legato], only with inequality, hanging as it were upon some notes descending, and hastening the others so as to preserve the time in the whole bar.48

Hairpins were also often used to indicate tempo flexibility on one or more notes throughout the 19th century. One example of this indication is from Brahms-Schumann school pianist, Fanny Davies, who was also one of Clara Schumann’s favourite students. She states:

The sign < > as used by Brahms, often occurs when he wishes to express great sincerity and warmth, applied not only to tone but to rhythm also.  He would linger not on one note alone, but on a whole idea, as if unable to tear himself away from its beauty.  He would prefer to lengthen a bar or phrase rather than spoil it by making up the time into a metronomic bar.49

Spohr’s hairpin markings in his Violinschule could be interpreted as both dynamic and rhythmic, as playing each quaver of the accompanying voice rhythmically accurately would sound quite rigid, so I think some sort of rhythmic flexibility is needed (Fig 3.21).50

Figure 3.21: Opening of Spohr’s exercise for portamento and bow technique.51


Appropriate placement of portamento in singing and violin playing

While the appropriate location for adding portamenti differs among vocal treatises, the consensus seemed to be that it should be used in moderation and that its use was dependent on the context of the music. It also seemed more appropriate to add portamenti in slower movements. Albert Bach (1844-1912) states that “the quicker the time, the less is the demand for portamento; the slower the movement, the more necessary it is, and it is therefore most necessary in the cantabile.”52 Luigi Lablache (1794-1858) similarly observes that portamento occurs “in a rather slow movement,” but notes to “avoid with care leaning strongly upon the carriage of the voice in descending” as it produces a “disagreeable … kind of yawn.”53 Garcia, on the other hand, simply states that the “slur will always be well placed, whenever, in passionate places, the voice drags itself on under the influence of a strong or tender sentiment.”54 Bach (1883) remarked that “without portamento there was no singing, but only isolated notes void of all spiritual connection.”55 He also stated:

Portamento has its place chiefly in pieces in which tender sentiment is to be expressed; yet in the representation of violent passions, and in the delineation of gloom, not less than of the serene, and even in the recitativo, it may not always be dispensed with. The artist’s taste has in most cases to decide where portamento may be employed. Expressiveness is both the object and the effect of the portamento, no matter whether love, grief, or joy be the emotions to be characterised. Still, as observed above, tender sentiment can least do without it.56

Croker’s Handbook for Singers (1895), which was widely read well into the 20th century, was more explicit in explaining the appropriate placement of portamento.57 While he warned against the overuse of portamento and advised “careful judgement” when interpreting portamento and phrase or ornament markings in scores, Croker advised the use of portamento to smoothly connect phrases (Fig. 3.22).

Figure 3.22: Croker’s annotation of a slur, indicating portamento use, to bind two phrases together.58


Both vocalists and violinists referred to portamento as an ornamental device and advised to use it sparingly and with taste. It can be seen in both vocal and violin treatises of the period that the general consensus was that a clean onset, without “taking every note with a precursory interval,”59 was the most desirable way to start a phrase, but as was common, performers did not always adhere to the rules laid out in treatises.60 In fact, Milsom (2003) found that Bériot’s notation of portamento usually falls on a strong beat, “most frequently” ascending,61 and I have found examples of Bériot’s indication of a portamento from an anacrusis to the down beat of a phrase, as shown in Fig. 3.23 and 3.24 below.

Figure 3.23: Bériot’s Mozart Quintet example, Accent douloureuz indicates slides on all anacruses with varying expressive execution (either with decrescendo during the portamento or with a portamento to an accented note).62


Figure 3.24: Bériot’s Lafont 5th Concerto example, Accent limpide. Egalite de son. Points d’orgue files also indicates portamenti on the two opening anacruses.63


Other instances where portamento was seen to enhance expressivity were at fermatas, where JF Schubert encouraged its use as another option to “serve instead of decoration,”64 and to emphasise minor seconds under slurs. David’s editions of Beethoven’s Violin Sonata in A Major, Op. 12, No. 2, second movement (Fig. 3.25) shows same-finger shifting to emphasise chromatic movement.

Figure 3.25: Beethoven’s Violin Sonata in A Major, Op. 12, No. 2, second movement, bars 1-12.65 David’s fingering indicate a chromatic slide on 1st finger between A5, G#5 and back to A5 in bar 10, as well as same-finger shifts over intervals of a third in bars 10 and 11.


Early editions also indicate changing fingers on a repeated note and David, in his edition of his Introduction and Variations, sur un thème de Schubert: Tema, Op. 15 (Fig. 3.26), often changes fingers on a repeated note during a passage with an expressive marking; he changes from 3rd to 1st finger on the repeated A5s while making a crescendo to forte in bars 8 and 18, and changes from 3rd to 4th finger on the repeated A4 while making a diminuendo to pianissimo in bar 13. It is also interesting to note David’s Paganini-like successive same-finger shifts under slurs (often with fermatas) in bar 3, 17, 21 and 27, which would no doubt sound excessive to modern ears.

Figure 3.26: David’s fingerings indicating changing fingers on repeated notes in bars 8, 10, 12, 13, 18, 20, 22, and 23 of his edition of his Introduction and Variations, sur un thème de Schubert, Op. 15: Tema.66


Similarly, Ernst indicates changing fingers on repeated notes in bar 29 and 30 of his Élégie (Fig 3.27).

Figure 3.27: Fingerings indicating changing fingers on repeated notes in Ernst’s Élégie (composed between 1829 and 1838), bar 29-30.67


Another expressive quality of portamento is its ability to emphasise the sighing quality of a falling interval, such as a descending third, as indicated in Beethoven’s Violin Sonata in A Major, Op. 12, No. 2, second movement (Fig. 3.25 above). This fingering is indicated during a hairpin, which further shows its expressive sighing intention. Similarly, the falling 4th-finger portamento indicated in David’s edition of Beethoven’s “Spring” Sonata (Fig. 3.28) could be seen to emphasise the release of the falling fourths after the sf high Fs in bars 70 and 72, as well as to aid in the decay in sound after these accented notes.68

Figure 3.28: Beethoven Sonata for Violin and Piano in F Major (“Spring”), Op. 24, No. 5, third movement, bars 69-72.69 David’s fingerings indicate same-finger (4th-finger) descending sighing portamenti from F6 to C6 in bars 70 and 72.


Generally, portamento was not advised in orchestral playing unless indicated specifically by a fingering. Such instances can be seen in the 1833 treatise and the opening of the 5th symphony of Spohr, the 1844 writings of Ferdinand Simon Gassner (1798-1851), and the orchestral scores of Giacomo Meyerbeer (1791-1864).70

Discussion and Conclusions

The documentation I have examined shows both “necessary” and expressive portamenti. Both Potter (2006) and Milsom (2003) have noted that both singers and violinists can express portamento either out of “necessity” or out of taste. The stylistic applications of portamento can be seen throughout the vocal and violin treatises of the 18th and 19th centuries but “necessary” portamenti may not have been explicitly documented as they might have gone unnoticed to the 19th-century listener, much in the way that continuous vibrato in “modern” performing is a “necessary” aspect of good singing and playing.71 As Milsom states:

A singer may effect a portamento for two reasons: because the structure of the

phrase compels it, or because a singer desires it on aesthetic grounds. In this way, singing technique provides a parallel situation to that of the string player, who, in a similar way, may slide either through necessity, or through choice. Given that the writers have been describing technique in stylistic terms so far in this discussion, one might reasonably assume that ‘stylistic’ rather than ‘necessary’ portamenti are alluded to in respect of singers. This statement remains inconclusive, since the aim to create a ‘natural’ vocal style in violin playing does not provide any sure indication of what terms of reference are being used.72

Necessary portamenti seem to be a by-product of the violin shifting techniques of the turn of the 19th century, as sliding to intermediary notes with the initial (guide) finger, and therefore connecting the intervallic leaps, was an essential aspect of shifting techniques of the period. Period fingerings also show single-finger shifts were encouraged, especially over the interval of a third. These shifting techniques and the fingerings shown in early editions of Schubert’s music show that there was frequent connection between intervals, both out of technical necessity and for expressive reasons. Similarly, good singing technique and style stemmed from legato singing, where each note was connected with continuous air pressure and anticipation exercises were used to encourage smooth sliding between intervals. From this technical necessity, more obvious ornamental expressive portamenti grew but were encouraged to be used in moderation. However, it is hard to interpret what exact frequency of use would have been tasteful for each performer in their respective contexts. It can be seen clearly from the written documentation that there were varying suggestions of appropriate locations to add portamenti, and thus tastes of appropriate portamento use must have varied, perhaps greatly, from performer to performer. While there was discrepancy as to whether or not beginnings of phrases were appropriate locations, it seemed common to slide to strong beats in a tasteful context. Other expressive locations included falling intervals after accented notes, sighing falling thirds, to emphasise a minor second or expressive interval, and to ornament a fermata. The unanimous consensus, however, was twofold: 1) that the nature of the portamenti chosen should always be appropriate to the character of the music, and 2) that the slower the music, the more portamenti should be implemented.

There seems to be less evidence in earlier 18th-century vocal and violin treatises of the specific different types of portamento and the technical ways in which to execute them compared to later treatises throughout the 19th century. However, like Brown in Classical and Romantic Performing Practice, I would argue that this might only indicate that it was in fact being used earlier in the 18th century but not always in the most pleasing of ways. Hence, later violinists (and vocalists such as Croker) explained more explicit examples to ensure performers used portamento in good taste.73

With the knowledge of frequent and varied portamento use throughout the vocal and violin treatises of the 18th and 19th centuries, it is now important to explore the audible historical examples of portamento use for added context. Fortunately, we have a number of vocal and violin recordings from the late-19th and early-20th centuries where portamenti are employed. Moreover, and importantly, we also have modern computer software that allows us to describe and quantify variation in the use of portamenti in such early recordings. This intriguing aspect of the history of use of portamenti is explored in Chapter 4.