Musical directions are many times put in the language of the original composer. However, Italian is the universal language of music. It is understoood by musicians around the world and is the standard. You may not understand a composer in Japan but if you tell him, "Allegro ma non troppo, he would understand you to say, "Fast but not too much."
Italian words are used for such directions as the speed (tempo) of the piece, how loud to play and how to articulate the notes. Here is a list of some of the important ones:
|Ad Libitum (or Ad Lib.)||At liberty, invented by the performer, whatever you want.|
|Al Fine||To the end.|
|Allegretto||Slower than Allegro.|
|Allegro||Fast, quick tempo.|
|Andante||Moderate tempo, slower than Moderato.|
|Andantino||Little faster than Andante.|
|A Tempo||Resume original tempo|
|Cantabile||With a singing style.|
|Crescendo||Increasing in loudness.|
|Da Capo (D.C.)||From the beginning (head).|
|Decrescendo||Decreasing in loudness.|
|Grave||Grave, slow, solemn (slower than Adagio).|
|Largo||Slow and broad.|
|Larghetto||Less slow than Largo.|
|Non Troppo||Not too much.|
|Prestissimo||As fast as possible.|
|Tenuto (ten.)||Hold for full value.|
|Vivo||Lively, full of life.|
Many musical directives are abbreviated.
In the above example see the references to the circled numbers.
1. p stands for piano (soft).
2. mp, mezzo piano (medium soft).
3. f, forte (loud).
4. Sometimes called a 'hairpin', the symbol for crescendo (gradually getting louder). Symbol 7. is a decrescendo. Notice the words cresc. and decresc. These are the same as hairpins.
5. and 6. mean szforzando (sudden or strong accent on a single note).
Between 5. and 6. is a rit. (ritardando, gradually slowing down.
Dynamic directions were not usually used by the old masters. The recorder has a very limited capability for loud or soft playing. Volume is dictated by the note. It is impossible to play high notes very softly or a low note loudly and still have good intonation (be in tune). Usually the old masters would give directions to the continuo (accompaniment) to play loud or soft, thereby increasing or decreasing the presence of the recorder. This was quite impossible when the continuo was a Harpsichord because it has no dynamics at all. If the accompaniment was a Lute or Viol, it worked quite well. The truth is, if you are given dynamic directions, the arranger, editor or composer was not a recorder player if they extend below p or beyond f. A small amount of crescendo, decrescendo or sforzando is possible but not as much as some modern editions would have you believe.
Now I am ready to learn to play music. Take me to the Articulation page.
Boy oh boy, there sure is a lot to know. More than I can handle at the moment. Let's go Home.