If in a music piece crescendo is present but there are no decrescendos in the following measures, do I maintain the last loudness of the crescendo throughout until there is a decrescendo or another symbol of a dynamics?(e.g; The crescendo is a pianissimo - fortissimo; do I maintain the fortissimo until there is a change?)

3 Answers 3


Yes, that is the normal interpretation. A crescendo or decrescendo permanently changes the dynamic, until another dynamic marking takes effect.


A crescendo starts at the last stated dynamic level. It needs to lead to a stated level - otherwise how do we know whether a cresc. that starts at mp goes up to mf or to fff? That level then persists until there is a further explicit instruction.

  • The first sentence is not exactly in line with the recommendation from my ex-conductor: There is always a tendency in bigger ensembler to gravitate to something like mf, which leaves not much room upwards. So he gave the rule of thumb to reduce volume at the start of a crescendo (not at the end, which was asked for). In case of doubt one could insert an explicit specification anyway.
    – guidot
    Commented Mar 29, 2017 at 15:00
  • That might be a useful pragmatic technique with less experienced ensembles. But a professional orchestra or band is perfectly capable of maintaining a pp if that is what's written. And if they DO creep up, the conductor's job is to remind them not to!
    – Laurence
    Commented Mar 29, 2017 at 15:17

Conceptually, yes: the end volume of a written dynamic is supposed to stick until further notice.

If you check with a loudness meter, you'll usually find that the actual dynamics both have in-phrase flexibility as well as being anticipatory of future dynamics, more often than not giving them more range to work with.

So if you have three crescendo phrases in a row, each will start and end louder than the previous one, but more likely than not each new phrase will not start exactly where the previous left off in volume but leave a bit more leeway for development by starting a someone quieter while still maintaining a continuity of tension/intensity.

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