Came across this variety of decrescendo in a vocal piece our choir is working on. 3 in the 13-page piece, all in the space of 3 bars, early in the piece, 2 of which are shown here. My choral director has never seen this before, nor have I. The notes in all 3 cases are followed by rests, so it's not necessary to indicate, say, "decrescendo to silence". The composer's website used to have a link to ask questions, but she removed that recently, so no way to ask her that I know of. Any ideas? Thanks in advance. enter image description here

  • 2
    Could you add the author and the title of the piece? Jan 24, 2023 at 17:49
  • 7
    This would be al niente
    – Neal
    Jan 24, 2023 at 18:13
  • 4
    Maybe the singer is supposed to keep their mouth open until they run out of air😮
    – Theodore
    Jan 24, 2023 at 18:19
  • 5
    Yes, this is decrescendo to silence or al niente. And no, the rest does not make this redundant. The circle basically says that at time you reach the end of the note it should be gone. If it weren’t there one might simply reduce the volume, but not to nothingness.
    – Lazy
    Jan 24, 2023 at 18:29
  • It's not a duplicate question, but see other discussion of this phenomenon at Notation for rapid diminuendo Jan 25, 2023 at 17:33

2 Answers 2


Al niente. The decrescendo applies to the note length concerned (here a tied crotchet), and as the singer reaches the second beat, the decrescendo should just have finished, down to silence.

  • Do you have a source for this, or an example of another piece where it is used? I could imagine that it could mean something else.
    – phoog
    Jan 24, 2023 at 18:56
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    @phoog Gould p.108 "A small circle at the closed end of a hairpin may be used to indicate growing from, as well as fading to, nothing."
    – PiedPiper
    Jan 24, 2023 at 20:17
  • Note the (n) below the 3rd line means basically the same thing. Jan 25, 2023 at 14:22
  • @DarrelHoffman Here, it might be a lyric.
    – Karlo
    Jan 25, 2023 at 16:41
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    @Karlo Not likely if it's in parentheses like that. I suppose it's possible, but we'd have to see more of the score to be sure. Jan 25, 2023 at 16:48

The circle indicates al niente. Essentially the composer wants you to fade to nothing when you decrescendo.

  • Isn't that in my earlier answer? What does it add?
    – Tim
    Jan 26, 2023 at 19:22
  • I'm new here lol. I don't quite know the etiquette
    – Wgw327
    Jan 26, 2023 at 20:50

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