Definitions of Musical Terms

For Definitions of Violin/Viola and Bow Techniques, click here

Tempo and Timing

About Sound (Dynamics)

At the beginning of a song, there is usually a word or tempo marking that indicates the best tempo, or speed, of the song. For example, this tempo marking, , shows that quarter notes should be at the tempo ot 60 beats per minute, which is about the same as a typical heart beat.

Grave

Very slow (20-40 )

Lento

Slow (40-60)

Largo

Slowly, Broadly (40-50)

Adagio

Slow, Stately (50-60)

Andante

Walking Pace (60-80)

Moderato

Moderately (80-90)

Allegretto

Moderately Quick (90-100)

Allegro

Fast (100-132)

Vivace

Lively, Fast (132-144)

Presto

Very Fast (160-178)

Meno Mosso

Less Movement, Slower

Dolce

Sweetly

Cantabile

Lyrical, Flowing

Espressivo

Expressively

Maestoso

Majestic, Stately

Accelerando

Speeding up

Stringendo

Speeding up

Piu Mosso

A little faster

Ritenuto

A little slower

Rubato

Freedom in tempo

Calando

Slower and softer

Fermata (ex. 1)

A hold, or pause, on a note or rest

Tenuto (ex. 1)

Holding the note the full value

Caesura (ex. 1)

Pause in the the music

 

 

Crescendo (ex. 1)

Gradually getting louder, over the course of one or more notes or measures

Decrescendo (ex.1)

Gradually getting softer, over the course of one or more notes or measures

ff

Very loud (Fortissimo)

f

Loud (Forte)

mf

Somewhat loud (Med. Forte)

mp

Somewhat soft (Med. piano)

p

Soft (Piano)

pp

Very Soft (Pianissimo)

Example 1