Definition and background:
Directions to a performer typically through symbols and icons on a musical score that indicate characteristics of the attack, duration, and decay (or envelope) of a given note. These directions are often interpreted by the conductor for the ensemble. The conductor also provides direction where no articulation markings are provided by the composer.Also see; accent, staccato, spiccato, legato, bowing, tonguing. Articulations (or accents) specify how individual notes are to be performed within a phrase or passage. They can be fine-tuned by combining more than one such symbol over or under a note. They may also appear in conjunction with phrasing marks listed above. the type of attack used to play one note or a group of notes
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Wikipedia - Glossary of Musical Terminology
Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary
ORB -- Medieval Music Glossary