A Basic List of Musical Terms and Symbols
Terms & symbols that affect dynamics
What it means cresc.
growing louder dim.
growing softer f
very loud fff
as loud as possible fp
play the note loudly and immediately grow soft mf
moderately loud mp
moderately soft p
very soft ppp
very, very soft sf or sfz
play the note with much force
Terms and symbols that affect tempo
growing faster cal.
growing slower and softer fermata
hold the note longer than normal rall.
growing slower rit.
growing slower rubato
in a free tempo stretto
quicker tempo string.
faster and louder
Other common symbols and terms
- or > or ^
play the note slightly louder / or //
a longer pause between notes ’
a slight pause between notes cantabile
singing, songlike con
with (con espr. = with expression or feeling) crescendo
growing louder D.C.
go back to the beginning D.S.
go back to the sign decrescendo
growing softer dolce
play with a downbow or downstroke espr.
expressively, with feeling fine
the end (al fine = to the end) °
play the note as a harmonic leg.
smoothly, connected legg.
less (meno mosso = less movement; a little slower) m.d.
play with the right hand m.g.
play with the left hand molto
very (molto rit. = growing very much slower) mosso
motion, movement, speed pes.
pluck the string with the finger plus
more (plus lent = slower) più or peu
more (più mosso = more movement; quicker) poco
a little (poco a poco cresc. = gradually grow louder) senza
without (senza rit. = without slowing down) sim.
in the same manner slur
connect the notes smoothly sordino
mute (con sordino = with mute) · or '
play the note slightly shorter stacc.
play the note slightly shorter sul
on or near (sul A = play entirely on the A string) - or ten.
hold the note for its full value or trem.
rapidly playing the same or two alternating notes upbow/upstroke
play the note with an upbow or upstroke
Standard Tempo Marks (listed in order from slowest to fastest)
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