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Symbols

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Accents

Emphasize the note, so that it is louder than surrounding notes.

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Brackets

The brackets indicate the editor's suggestion to perform the music with the enclosed markings, as in [rit.].

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Breath mark

Breathe here, generally without disturbing the tempo.

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Cesura

(Italian) A pause indicated by a dividing line placed between two melodic and rhythmic phrases.

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Coda

(Italian) Literally "tail." A passage that serves as a formal closing of a movement.

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Crescendo

(Italian) Becoming gradually louder; increasing in loudness.

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Decrescendo

(Italian) Becoming gradually softer, decreasing in loudness.

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Fermata

(Italian) Pause; hold the note longer than its normal duration.

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Forte

(Italian) Loud.

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Forte fortissimo

(Italian) Extremely loud; as loud as possible.

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Forte piano

(Italian) Begin the note loudly, instantly diminishing to a much softer volume.

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Fortissimo

(Italian) Very loud.

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Fortissimo piano

(Italian) Begin the note very loudly, instantly diminishing to a much softer volume.

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Forzando

(Italian) Begin the note loudly with a very strong accent.

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Forzando

(Italian) Begin the note very loudly with a very strong accent.

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Forzando

(Italian) Begin the note extremely loudly with a very strong accent.

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Grace note

An ornament consisting of a note which embellishes the following note. Played just before the beat or directly on the beat.

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Harmonic

A note that is an overtone of a fundamental note of a musical instrument.

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Measure repeat

The measure repeat sign indicates to repeat the previous measure exactly as written.

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Mezzo forte

(Italian) Moderately loud.

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Mezzo forte piano

(Italian) Begin the note moderately loudly, instantly diminishing to a much softer volume.

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Mezzo piano

(Italian) Moderately soft.

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Mordent

(German) An ornament consisting of a single, rapid alternation of the principal note with the auxiliary note a minor second below.

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Pianissimo

(Italian) Very soft.

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Piano

(Italian) Soft.

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Piano pianissimo

(Italian) Extremely soft; as soft as possible.

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Phrase mark

A curved mark over a musical "phrase." A phrase is a group of notes related musically, as in one lyric passage in a verse.

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Repeat

Indicates the beginning or ending of a section that is to be repeated.

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Segno

(Italian) A sign that indicates the beginning or ending of a repeated section; used in terms such as D.S. (Dal Segno), meaning "from the sign."

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Sforzando

(Italian) Begin the note loudly, with a marked and sudden emphasis.

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Sforzando

(Italian) Begin the note very loudly, with a marked and sudden emphasis.

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Sforzando

(Italian) Begin the note extremely loudly, with a marked and sudden emphasis.

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Sforzando piano

(Italian) Begin the note loudly, with a marked and sudden emphasis, instantly diminishing to a much softer volume.

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Slur

A curved line connecting two or more notes. This symbol indicates that the notes within the slur are to be smoothly connected together, with no articulation between the individual tones.

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Staccato

(Italian) Articulate the notes with separation between them, not connecting them to one another.

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Stop

Alter the tone by partially closing the bell (brass instruments), or by using a false fingering (woodwinds).

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Tenuto

(Italian) Literally "held." Stress the note by holding it to its full value.

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Tenuto staccato

(Italian) Hold a note for almost its full value, but do not connect it to the succeeding note.

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Tremolo

(Italian) Literally "quivering, fluttering." An ornament consisting of a rapid alternation of tones; or, on a stringed instrument, rapid alternation of up-bows and down-bows.

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Trill

The rapid alternation of a principal note with its auxiliary note a minor or major second higher.

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Turn

An ornamental device consisting of the principal note and an upper and lower auxiliary note.

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Vibrato

(Italian) A slight pitch fluctuation used to enrich or add expression to the sound.

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Wedge

An especially short and detached note.


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