Unit 1 - Lesson 6 : Unit 1 - Lesson 6 Dynamics Dynamics : Dynamics “Dynamics” is the term that musicians use when referring to volume or intensity.
Dynamics help the musician to express emotion and depth of feeling in a piece of music.
Dynamics bring music to life. Music would sound dull and flat if every sound was performed at the same volume level. Dynamic Levels : Dynamic Levels There are 3 basic levels of Dynamics:
(We don’t mean to insult your intelligence, but we have to start somewhere!) Musical Terms : Musical Terms We should mention that music is a universal language, spoken by every culture in the world. If you compose a song in English, how will someone in China be able to follow your instructions?
It was decided long ago that all musical instructions would be written in Italian. All musicians learn the Italian words for things like dynamics regardless of what language they speak.
We could bore you with the details as to how and why Italian was chosen - and while we do take pleasure in watching students nod off, we can’t see you right now so - we’ll leave that for another time.
If you really want to know, you could always try Google.com. Terms for Dynamics : Terms for Dynamics Here are the Italian words used for Dynamics:
FORTE - “LOUD”
MEZZO - “MEDIUM”
PIANO - “SOFT”
(That’s right, piano actually means soft. That big black beast in your grandma’s basement was originally called piano-forte, or soft-loud. Musicians really are an odd bunch.) Terms for Dynamics : Terms for Dynamics By combining these terms and adding a suffix to piano and forte, we can extend the basic dynamic levels to cover the complete dynamic range.
The suffixes used are:
-issimo = more
ississmo = most Terms for Dynamics : Terms for Dynamics We combine the terms and suffixes like this:
Mezzo Forte is “Medium Loud”
Forte is “Loud”
Fortissimo is “More Loud” or “Louder”
Fortississimo is “Most Loud” or “Loudest” The Complete Dynamic Range : The Complete Dynamic Range Here are the musical terms for the complete dynamic range from loudest to softest:
Fortississimo - Loudest
Fortississimo - Very Loud
Forte - Loud
Mezzo Forte - Medium Loud
Mezzo Piano - Medium Soft
Pianissimo - Very Soft
Pianississimo - Softest The Complete Dynamic Range : The Complete Dynamic Range To keep a page of music from looking cluttered, musicians use these abbreviations:
fff - Fortississimo
ff - Fortississimo
f - Forte -
mf - Mezzo Forte
mp - Mezzo Piano
pp - Pianissimo
ppp - Pianississimo The Complete Dynamic Range : The Complete Dynamic Range Mezzo Forte or mf is considered to be “average” or “normal” volume.
From that point, a musician gets louder or softer depending on the instructions given by the composer’s dynamic markings - the musical term for the abbreviations.
That just about covers the topic of dynamics, but we have one final concept to consider. Crescendo and Decrescendo : Crescendo and Decrescendo Sorry, two more Italian words to throw at you. If a composer wants a passage of music to get gradually louder or softer, he or she will use a Crescendo or Decrescendo mark.
Crescendo means to gradually grow louder. A crescendo mark looks like this:
Decrescendo means to gradually grow softer. A decrescendo mark looks like this: Listening Examples : Listening Examples Dynamics are such an integral part of musical expression that a list of listening examples would be endless. A few that we might recommend are:
Surprise Symphony by Haydn
Firebird Suite by Stravinsky
Fifth Symphony by Beethoven
Rhapsody in Blue by Gershwin
These selections can be found at:
The final three are included on the movie “Fantasia 2000,” which you can rent at your local video store. Breathe Life into Your Music! : Breathe Life into Your Music! If you sing or play an instrument, the dynamic markings on a page of printed music are as important as the music notes
Many young musicians overlook the importance of dynamics when performing a piece of music
Make your music come alive! Use dynamics to impress your audience This Ends Lesson 6 : This Ends Lesson 6 Please complete Quiz #6 and then move on to Lesson 7.