(Re: the Text, p. 12)

Expression consists of those mysterious elements in music that prompt a wide range of emotional responses in the listener. Those responses can range all the way from happy to sad, from making us want to move in time with the beat, to making us feel quiet and restful. But such responses do not automatically occur solely through the simple sounding of notes. Rather they result from the performer’s playing expressively. Acquiring the ability to play with effective expression requires much thoughtful practice.

We have begun this important area of musical study with just two expression marks or signs both of which are essential in creating expression. These and other expression signs and terms (which are mostly Italian), are commonly placed in music to indicate the composer’s expressive intentions. Abbreviations are usually used in a musical score, but are rarely used verbally; only the full terms are spoken. Thus, in addition to learning their meanings we need also to learn their correct pronunciations.

  •  p indicates piano meaning soft.
  • f  indicates forte (pron. for-tay) means loud
  • Crescendo (pron. kreh-shen-doh), is abbreviated cresc., which means to gradually play louder, and is often indicated with a crescendo wedge.
  • Diminuendo (pron. di-minu-endo) is abbreviated dim., which means to gradually play softer, and is often indicated with a diminuendo wedge.
  • A gradual change in tempo is indicated by the abbreviation for accellerando (pron. aht-chel-le-rahn-doh), accel., meaning gradually faster, or by the abbreviation for ritardando (pron. ri-tar-dahn-doh) rit., meaning gradually slower.
  • Senza means ‘without’ as in senza rit., without ritard.
  • Mezzo (pron. metzo) meaning “half” is used with mezzo forte (abbreviated mf, indicating “half loud”) and mezzo piano (abbreviated mp, indicating “half soft”—or somewhat louder than piano).
  • Poco (pron. poh-coh) meaning little, is often used along with the above terms such as poco rit., poco accel., etc.
  • A tempo (ah-tem-poh), which means to return to the original tempo, is often used following either rit. or accel.

……..Aaron Shearer