Glissando and How To Play It




I recently wrote an article about the  Glissando. It's an Ezine Article  How To Play A Gliding Glissando


What I remember most about the glissando was hearing my song end in the high register, like the Disney song, "A Whole New World." The song ends well, we have peace and closure to an ending that either uses broken chords (arpeggiated) or a glissando.


My music dictionary defines glissando (glees-SAHN-doh) as a rapid scale produced by sliding the fingers or hand from one note to another. 







Here's my article:


"Hearing a smooth rise in tones going up or down in pitch is wonderful to hear on the piano. However, producing this gliding effect on the keys can be quite challenging for some pianists.

The funny thing is that when I hear a car skidding on a road, I immediately think of the sweeping sound of a glissando and Jerry Lee Lewis comes to my mind with the song, Great Balls of Fire.
Glissando has a specific mark or notation in written sheet music. It sort of looks like a quarter rest lying on its side, turned horizontally. Also, you'll find the word gliss written above the squiggly line.

 You'll find my post on Great Balls of Fire at How-to-play-great-balls-of-fire

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when playing the glissando.

1. Hold your wrist as high as you can and over the middle of the keys.
2. Use a slightly bent thumb
3. Once curved and in position, play all the notes descending until you've reached the octave.

I have rather small hands so in the beginning I would practice glissando in sixths. That way I would reduce the tension in my arm and fingers. If you are fortunate to have large hands and a wider hand span, then by all means jump right in and practice the octave glissando.

Now, I've never played an ascending glissando in any written classical music that I can recall. If you see one, then use your left hand for ascending glissando tones. Some pianists prefer using their third finger in the right hand ascending also. Don't forget to use the damper pedal.

It takes lots of practice and constant motion of the hand and arm to achieve the sound you are looking for. At first, your thumb or finger may hurt a bit. I would suggest using a gauze bandage with a rubber band, or use a band-aid or perhaps scotch tape to protect soft skin.

I have played glissando occasionally sprinkled throughout a song in classical music or going into the chorus but I prefer a blues or rock song having a smash buckling ending with a descending glissando. What a great way to end a song. It sounds so professional and everyone loves to hear it."


I think one of the best sites I have researched involving added decorative type endings to blues or rock and roll can be found at http://www.netplaces.com/rock-blues-piano/riffs-embellishments-turnarounds-and-endings/embellishments-and-decorations.htm

Do you have a favorite blues song where you wrap it up with a fancy glissando ending?

More resources at GospleKeys Master Class and


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All the best,

"The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you." B.B.King
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