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Accents are where you play notes a bit louder. It enables the dynamics for a section to stay the same, but highlight certain notes as being a bit louder. They are used by all styles of music, and are a good way to add dynamic rhythm. For example, to make a driving rock groove, you could play 8th notes on the hi hat (1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +), and accent only the numbers. Heavily accented notes can be used for stabs, or ending notes.

Accents are displayed on sheet music as a right arrow > symbol, or as an upward arrow for a heavily accented note. You can see a diagram below, which links to a good page with more info about accents and staccato markings.

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