We have listed below some musical terms
together with their abbreviations and meanings.
|Diminuendo ||get quieter|
See note below
|very, very quiet|
See note below
|very, very loud|
|sf||sforzando||suddenly very loud|
issimo and pp = Pianissimo so ppp = pianississimo.
also advises that the general rule is to add an "iss" for every added f or p.
e.g .ff = fortissimo so fff = fortiss
Sorry, June, but as much as I
loved your page, there is one flaw. I’m a professional musician from
Finland, and I wanna say, that pianississimo is not a real word at
all. There right term is piano pianissimo for ppp, and fff is forte
My response –
Being a professional
musician yourself you are obviously far more qualified that me on this subject
but, having done a little more research I find that the term "pianississimo"
is, in fact, featured in many dictionaries and musical sites. I am wondering if,
perhaps, it is a difference within geographical regions, although I had thought
music was fairly general worldwide.
I could, however, not find many references to the
term "piano pianissimo" being used for ppp.
I did come across a site which mentions that
musicians have devised various neologisms for these designations, including
fortississimo/pianississimo, forte fortissimo/piano pianissimo, and more simply
triple forte/triple piano or molto fortissimo/molto pianissimo.
has kindly added to this discussion by sending in the following
This is regarding the use of
the word pianississimo. In the Italian language there is no such word. Italian
is similar to English in its use of adjectives which can be formed in to the
comparative and the superlative.
soft – piano (p)
softer (more softer) – pui
piano (piu p) (comparative) softest (the most soft) – pianissimo (pp)
loud – forte (f)
louder – piu forte (piu f)
(comparative) loudest – fortissimo (ff) (superlative)
Just like in English, there
can be nothing greater than the most (issimo).
Originally, the Italian
dynamic system which spread throughout Europe spanned from the softest (pp) to
the loudest (ff). But there seems to have occurred a sort of dynamic inflation.
Composer’s wanted sounds that were louder and softer than the sounds produced by
earlier manifestation of instruments (such as the modern piano versus the
fortepiano; where improvements in the action and the resonance both increased
its volume and its ability to play soft. To them there was no comparison between
the sound of the late 18th century ff and a late 19th century sound that was to
be as loud as possible.
And now we will see modern
composers write not only fff but also ffff and even fffff. I wonder what an
Italian teacher says to their students when they see those symbol. Probably
something similar to what I say to my students. FFF that’s really loud, louder
than loudest. FFFF that’s unbelievably loud! And when my students ask what FF
means. I tell them to imagine a world that has no engines, no amplification, no
electric motor, no jack hammers, no chain saws. A world that when compared to
our time seems as if everything has stopped and all is utterly quiet. And that
utter quietness was universal. Then I ask them to imagine what would be a loud
sound in that world: that is the meaning of ff.
slow and dignified
flowing, at walking pace
quick and bright
a little slower than allegro
fast and lively
|slowing tempo (Jenifer Hood)|
|flexible tempo (Jenifer Hood)|
soft and sweet
You may also find the following other pages useful and, hopefully,
explanation of musical notation
Musical Mnemonics and
Naming the Scale
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