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The term dynamics refers to
changes in volume.
Dynamics are commonly written in Italian, the first
piece to use dynamics was the “Sonata piano e
forte” by Giovanni Gabrieli in the early 1600’s
• The basic dynamic markings include piano (soft),
forte (loud) and mezzo (medium).
• The ending -issimo pushes the dynamic away from
the center of the continuum, and adds an extra
letter (e.g. pianissimo is softer than piano, pp.)
pppp ppp pp p mp mf f ff fff ffff
In the “Romantic Era” of music, composers were
Especially fond of extreme dynamic levels
(Tchaikovsky, Verdi, Mahler, Strauss).
When there is a change in dynamic level, we
use a few terms to describe the change.
• When the dynamics get louder, this is called a
Crescendo which means “Growing” in Italian.
• When the dynamics get softer, this is called a
Decrescendo or Diminuendo, and this means
“getting smaller” in Italian.
Crescendo and Decrescendo are also represented
visually by these symbols.
Conductors always try to be as faithful as possible
to composers dynamic markings, and a more varied
dynamic range makes for a more interesting
The actual name for a piano is
the pianoforte and it was the
first keyboard instrument
that was able to play a large
dynamic range.
Which composer was the first
one to use the pianoforte to its
full dynamic capability???