9

I've seen these dynamics that are notated with: 'm', 'r', 's', and 'z', but I don't know what the mean. I might have an idea to what 'm' means, which might mean 'medium' like in mp or mf, but I don't know about the others. Here are some dynamics that the others appear in.

sfp

sfz

rfz

and like I said earlier, mp and mf.

  • 1
    The letters don't generally make much sense by themselves; they're abbreviations. You can't write spz, for example. – phoog Oct 6 at 19:43
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mp and mf are mezzo-piano and mezzo-forte, respectively. Mezzo means "middle" or "medium", and so they're more towards the middle than piano and forte. So from softest to loudest, we have pp (pianissimo), p, mp, mf, f, and ff (fortissimo). More "p"s or "f"s are technically nonstandard, but are nevertheless used quite a lot.

sf or sfz is sforzando, a sudden emphasis. Literally, "straining".

rfz is rinforzando, and is more or less synonymous with sforzando for musical purposes. Literally, "reinforcing".

sfp is sforzando-piano, or sforzando followed immediately by piano. Slightly more dramatic than just fp. sfzp would be the same thing.

These abbreviations tend to get abused. You'll see things like sffz or sfffzp. These aren't proper abbreviations, the composer is simply adding more "f"s to mean more volume.

  • 6
    A ffine answer! – JiK Oct 6 at 10:40
  • Thanks, but what's the difference between rfz, and sfz? – Xboy1 Oct 6 at 16:18
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    "more p's or f's are nonstandard": says who? Pianississimo (ppp) and fortississimo (fff) are entirely standard as far as I know, and I would be surprised to see a notation reference that did not mention pppp and ffff. – phoog Oct 6 at 19:45
  • @phoog they are nonstandard with sforzando, as there is no such thing as sforxandissimo and such. It's just mixing up forte and the sforzando, or thinking sfz means "suddenly forte," and thus "sffz" means "suddenly fortissimo." – trlkly Oct 7 at 4:55
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    @trlkly indeed, but the answer clearly says that fff and ppp are nonstandard, which is an assertion that I can most charitably describe as baffling. – phoog Oct 7 at 5:16
1

A small addition to MattPutnam's answer:

rfz is seen a fair bit in the music of Elgar. The difference between rfz and sfz is that sfz is a more percussive hit. rfz was once described to me as like squeezing toothpaste out of a tube - it is played with much less attack than sfz, though equally strongly. (Of course, on percussive instruments like the piano you cannot make the distinction.)

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