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frog, middle, tip: areas of the bow
arco: played with the bow; normally used to cancel a pizzicato direction
pizzicato: pluck the string with the finger
col legno: with the wood; i.e., the strings are to be struck with the wood of the bow,
making a percussive sound; also battuta col legno: beaten with the wood
con sordino, or con sordini (plural): with mute
senza sordina, or senza sordino: without the mute
double stop: the act of playing two notes simultaneously
sul ponticello: on the bridge; i.e., in string playing, an indication to bow very near to the
bridge, producing a characteristic glassy sound
sul tasto: on the fingerboard; i.e., in string playing, an indication to bow over the
fingerboard. Playing over the fingerboard produces a warmer, gentler tone.
naturale or nat.: natural; i.e., discontinue a special effect, such as col legno, sul tasto,
portato or loure: very smoothly articulated notes in one bow stroke
spiccato: distinct, separated; i.e., a way of playing the violin and other bowed
instruments by bouncing the bow on the string, giving a characteristic staccato effect
staccato: making each note brief and detached; the opposite of legato.
tremolo: shaking; i.e., a rapid repetition of the same note, or an alternation between two
or more notes (often an octave on the piano). String players perform tremolo with the
bow by rapidly moving the bow while the arm is tense. It is notated by a three diagonal
bars across the note stem

largo or largamente: broadly; i.e., slowly (in the Baroque period, largo was quicker than
lento: slowly
adagio: at ease; i.e., play slowly
andante: at a moderate tempo
andantino: slightly faster than andante
allegretto: a little lively, moderately fast
allegro moderato: moderately fast
allegro: cheerful or brisk; but commonly interpreted as lively, fast
vivace: very lively, up-tempo
presto: very quickly

accelerando, accel.: accelerating; gradually increasing the tempo
allargando: broadening, becoming a little slower each time
a tempo: in time; i.e., the performer should return to the main tempo of the piece minuet)
con moto or con mosso: with motion, faster
meno mosso: less motion, slower
piu moto or piu mosso: more motion, faster
rallentando or rall.: Broadening of the tempo; progressively slower
ritardando, ritard., rit.: slowing down; decelerating

assai: very
con: with
non troppo: not too much
ma non troppo: but not too much
meno: less; see meno mosso
moderato: moderate; often combined with other terms, usually relating to tempo; for
example, allegro moderato
molto: much or very
pi: more
poco: a little, as in poco pi allegro (a little more fast)
poco a poco: little by little
sempre: always
subito: suddenly

forte or f (usually): strong; i.e., to be played or sung loudly
fortississimo or fff: as loud as possible
mezzo forte or mf: half loudly; less than forte
mezzo: between mf and mp
mezzo piano or mp: louder than piano; i.e., moderately softly
pianissimo or pp : very gently; i.e., perform very softly, even softer than piano
piano or p: gently; i.e., played or sung softy
fortepiano or fp: loud, then immediately soft
crescendo or cresc.: gradually increasing volume
decrescendo or decresc.: same as diminuendo or dim.: gradually decreasing volume
accent: strong beginning of a note followed by a diminuendo
forzando or sforzando: a sudden strong accent

caesura: break, stop; i.e., a complete break in sound (sometimes nicknamed "railroad
tracks" in reference to their appearance)
common time: 4/4 or C
alla breve: in cut-time; 2/2
da capo: from the head; i.e., from the beginning
D.S.: Dal Segno, from the sign ( )
D.S. al fine or dal segno al fine: from the sign to the end; i.e., return to a place in the
music designated by the sign and continue to the end of the piece
fermata: a rest or note is to be held for a duration that is at the discretion of the
performer or conductor (sometimes called bird's eye)
G.P.: Grand Pause, General Pause; indicates to the performers that the entire ensemble
has a rest of indeterminate length, often as a dramatic effect during a loud section
solo, plural soli: alone; i.e., executed by a single instrument or voice. The instruction soli
requires more than one player or singer
tenuto or ten.: held; i.e., touch on a note slightly longer than usual, but without generally
altering the note's value; play full value.
tutti: all; all together, usually used in an orchestral or choral score when the orchestra or
all of the voices come in at the same time

con espressione: with (great, much) expression
espressivo or espr.: expressively
legato: joined; i.e., smoothly, in a connected manner
maestoso - majestic or stately (which generally indicates a solemn, slow march-like

arpeggio: the notes of a chord are to be played one after another (usually ascending)
instead of simultaneously.
conjunct motion: scale-wise movement (without skips)
disjunct motion: moving by larger intervals (not scale-wise)
hemiola: in triple time, the imposition of a duple pattern
syncopation: a disturbance or interruption of the regular flow of downbeat rhythm with
emphasis on the off-beat.
virtuoso: performing with exceptional ability, technique, or artistry
cadenza: a solo section, usually in a concerto or similar work, that is used to display the
performer's technique, sometimes at considerable length
chromatic: moving by half-steps