Niente” (“nothing”) is used to start a crescendo from silence or end a diminuendo with silence.

Some scores spell it out fully (from “Titanic Suite”, published by Hal Leonard): Diminuendo from mp to niente

Other scores abbreviate it as “n.” in italic typeface (“Diagon Alley” score reduction on YouTube): Diminuendo to n.

Meanwhile, in my scores I’ve always abbreviated it with the bold italic dynamic typeface:
Diminuendo to n

I did some looking around just now but I couldn’t find any rules, guidelines or other references to which manner of abbreviating it is considered more correct. The few scores I have that abbreviate it use n., but most of those are film scores, which use some specific conventions anyway, so I hesitate to draw conclusions from that.

Is there any reason – logical, historical, etc. – to prefer either n. or n, or is it up to personal preference?

  • It depends on the publisher: they will all have exact specifications and they will all be different. Feb 17, 2020 at 23:17
  • I would prefer >>>> ppp Feb 18, 2020 at 9:44
  • There's also a diminishing hairpin with ° at the right-hand point. Sibelius will draw this for you; it's one of the (many) line styles. Feb 18, 2020 at 11:06
  • 1
    @AlbrechtHügli ppp is not the same as niente. You can even start at ppp and decrescendo al niente.
    – PiedPiper
    Feb 18, 2020 at 12:08
  • 1
    I always start with niente ;) Feb 18, 2020 at 13:35

2 Answers 2


The n should be in the same font as the letters used for other dynamic marks, i.e. f, p, m, s, r, and z (s r and z are for dynamic marks like sfz and rf).

In good quality music engraving these will be a font style reserved only for dynamics, and the font only includes the relevant letters - including n.

According to the "bible" of modern notation, Gould's "Behind Bars", the standard abbreviation is a small circle at the end of a hairpin, but the letter n is often used instead.

  • 1
    Indeed, using a style similar to other dynamic marks is exactly why I’ve gone with the bold-italic n in the first place. After all this time I was just curious whether I was actually doing it right or not. And personally, I don’t like the hairpins with circles on the ends.
    – Walter
    Feb 17, 2020 at 23:24

I’ve never encountered this sign! It is really superfluous imho.

The flowing liste in German says:

If the volume at the end of a sliding dynamic change is to be reduced to silence, this is sometimes marked with the letter n at the end of crescendo / decrescendo forks. The letter n stands for "al niente" (= "to nothing").


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