Digital Sound & Music: Concepts, Applications, & Science, Chapter 3, last updated 6/25/2013
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Figure 3.39 “Over the Rainbow” in the key of E♭
3.1.7 Dynamics and Articulation
Dynamics symbols tell how loud or quietly music should be played. These terms were brought
into usage by Italian composers, and we still use the Italian terms and symbols. The terms are
summarized in Table 3.11 along with the signs used to denote them on the staff. Additional ps
and fs can be added to emphasize the loudness or quietness, but four ps or fs is usually the limit.
The symbols are displayed below the staff in the area to which they are applied.
Term Sign Meaning
piano

quiet
mezzo piano

moderately quiet
pianissimo

very quiet
forte

loud
mezzo forte

moderately loud
fortissimo

very loud
subito forte

suddenly loud
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