Why is the f dynamic indication repeated in the last two bars displayed below if a dynamic instruction should last until a different indication occurs?

Also, in the same picture, should the notes between the sforzando indications be played as ff (the last dynamic specified before sf )?

Thanks for your help!

enter image description here

  • Please provide composer, name of piece, and publisher. This information may well affect choice of interpretation. Aug 16, 2017 at 13:19
  • The fragment is from Beethoven's 9th Symphony. The print screen is from a score found on free-scores.com
    – Rafael
    Aug 17, 2017 at 9:14
  • In that case, knowing how much Beethoven likes dynamics, I wonder whether those should have been "sf" and the printer goofed up Aug 17, 2017 at 11:40
  • @CarlWitthoft - that seems a likely idea.
    – Tim
    Aug 17, 2017 at 16:42

3 Answers 3


At least in the classical period, the normal practice (with no explicit notation) was that different beats in the bar were accented differently.

Repeating the "f" on every beat says "ignore the fact that the first beat in the bar is normally louder than the second beat in 2/4 time, and play them both at the same dynamic level".

  • I see. Thanks for the insight! If I'm not mistaken, in this context, "sempre f" would serve the same purpose, right?
    – Rafael
    Aug 17, 2017 at 9:11

Sforzando only applies to the notes immediately above it, so the notes in between should not be played sforzando.

RE: the repeated forte, this is not necessary. Once forte, the layers must continue to play forte until told otherwise. My guess is that the composer wanted to remind the players to do this every few notes.


The composer wants the staccato notes to be emphasised. But they have a staccato dot over them. They need '>' over as well. There's no room. So he has to put 'f' instead.

  • That's not the composer's fault - unless he's really lazy. I have plenty of sheet music with multiple markings over the notes. Further, marking a dynamic is assuredly not an indicator of emphasis. Aug 16, 2017 at 13:20
  • @CarlWitthoft - a comment with examples would be so much more helpful to me (and other readers). I don't see music with multiple markings over the same dots. If 'f' doesn't mean emphasise those particular notes, what is it there for?
    – Tim
    Aug 17, 2017 at 16:40
  • 'cello music is rife with examples of notes that have a bowing mark over a amphasis (>) mark over a staccato or tenuto mark. Aug 17, 2017 at 19:10
  • @CarlWitthoft - cello music probably represents way less than 10% of music generally, probably less than 5%. It may be your world, but. it's a small world compared to the whole music world. Please do not let this give you the propensity to consider that all music revolves around the 'cello, because it obviously does not, comparing it to the rest of the musical world. That apart, bowing marks will not appear in most of sheet music. Haven''t seen much in horn stuff, or guitar or piano stuff, for example...Rife it may be, but there is a whole different world out there.
    – Tim
    Aug 17, 2017 at 19:38

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