Choir Dynamics Review

The purpose of this activity is to be sure you know the meanings of the 8 main dynamic markings that are used in choir music to show at what volume we should be singing at any given time. Most of the symbols are one-letter or two-letter abbreviations for Italian words.

The two main dynamic symbols are f (forte), which means loud and p (piano), which means soft.

Two more symbols are created by doubling the letters to make the dynamic more extreme (ff - very loud, pp - very soft).

Another pair of symbols is created by putting an "m" in front of the letter. "M" stands for "mezzo" in italian, which means medium.

So, in order, from softest to loudest, the six main symbols are as follows:
pp - very soft (pianissimo)
p - soft (piano)
mp - medium soft (mezzo piano)
mf - medium loud (mezzo forte)
f - loud (forte)
ff - very loud (fortissimo)

The last two dynamics involve gradual change over time.

"Crescendo" means gradually get louder. Sometimes, the abbreviation cresc. will appear in music to indicate that a crescendo should be performed. Crescendos are graphically represented by a symbol that looks like the "less than" symbol (<), because the volume at the beginning of a crescendo is LESS THAN the volume at the end.

"Diminuendo" means gradually get softer. The abbreviation "dim" is often used to indicate that the choir should get softer. The graphic representation for a diminuendo is a greater than sign (>) because the volume at the beginning of a diminuendo is GREATER THAN the volume at the end. A diminuendo is also sometimes called a "decrescendo".

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Choir/Performing Arts Teacher
Holicong Middle School