55 votes
Accepted

Why is there no indication of relative loudness on sheet music?

There are actually many markings in music notation that have to do with dynamics. Whether it is setting the overall level, such as Piano (p = quiet) or fortissimo(ff = loud), or a crescendo (<) or ...
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52 votes

Tell pianist to play entire piece softly, except one part

Another approach would be to simply state the instructions either in a blob of text preceding the music page or perhaps somewhere between the title and the music: This though would require ...
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50 votes

Tell pianist to play entire piece softly, except one part

Why are we making such a fuss over this? If you want the piece to start mp, write 'mp' in the first bar. If you want a particular section played mf, write 'mf' at that point. Then 'mp' again. A ...
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46 votes

Why is there no indication of relative loudness on sheet music?

There are lots of indications - explicit loudness markings (from ppp, pianississimo - very very soft - to fff - fortississimo - very very loud). crescendo and diminuendo marks (which can be textual ...
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37 votes
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Tell pianist to play entire piece softly, except one part

The conventional method is to write sempre mp in the first measure. Sempre means always. The exceptional measure could be marked as più forte ("louder"), followed by sempre mp again. Another ...
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34 votes
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Dynamic marking "f-p"

It means play forte the first time through, and piano on the repeat.
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29 votes
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Dynamics using m, r, s, and z. What do they mean?

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 (...
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17 votes
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What does *fp* mean in terms of volume to play?

Forte, followed immediately by piano. On a wind or bowed string instrument, you can do this on a single note. On the piano, you can't change dynamics of a note once it's been struck, but you can ...
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16 votes
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Can you bass boost a song repeatedly?

Yes, you can feed back processed audio into the same system that processed it originally, again and again. However, whenever you feed back audio into a non-idempotent system, the audio will always ...
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15 votes
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Why does photography promote high dynamic range whereas music production tends to reduce it?

Sound compression is used to respect the signal limits of microphones and/or speakers. Proper compression prevents sound distortion and also helps ensure across tracks that the dynamic ranges are ...
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14 votes

What's the name, and symbol, for the "normal" dynamic volume? (between mp and mf)

Related: How does one describe the level of playing that is neither piano nor forte? As I see it, you're assuming that all mp are the same, and that an mp written in a Wagnerian music drama is the ...
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13 votes

Techniques for "Dynamics" with Distortion on Electric Guitar

It's true that distortion, especially heavy distortion causes a lot of compression and evens out most of the dynamics. But a softly picked note is not only quieter, it's also duller, that is, it ...
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13 votes

Tell pianist to play entire piece softly, except one part

You can instruct the pianist to use the soft pedal by writing una corda above the score, at the very beginning. Mark the louder passage with tutte le corde or tre corde to indicate normal volume. ...
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12 votes

What's the name, and symbol, for the "normal" dynamic volume? (between mp and mf)

There is a possibility of addressing this question historically... My understanding (which is possibly apocryphal) is that mf came before mp, and originally meant "normal volume". To explain, "forte" ...
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11 votes

What's the name, and symbol, for the "normal" dynamic volume? (between mp and mf)

There isn't one. The composer must specify a dynamic at the outset. Neither mf or mp mean a great deal out of context. I guess mf is a bit nearer to "ordinary" than mp.
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11 votes
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Why were dynamic markings not really used in the Baroque and Classical period?

A short history of dynamics in music: If you look at the Baroque period, it is about conventions. Composers did not see the need to add dynamics and the players did not miss them. Not writing them ...
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11 votes

Dynamic marking "f-p"

It gets played as a sort of echo effect. 'f-p' is written to tell the player that it's forte for the first time through, and the repeat is piano. So your third idea is just right. It couldn't be ...
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10 votes
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What staff affected by a dynamic mark?

On piano music, with treble and bass clefs, if the dynamics mark is between them, it refers to both parts (hands). If it's for the treble, it's found above the treble, and if for bass alone, it's ...
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10 votes

Why can't oboes play softly while clarinets can?

In this admittedly limited study, they record one oboist using more than double (over 110 cm H2O) the blowing pressure to play fortissimo compared to two different clarinetists (both around 50 cm H2O),...
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10 votes

Why crescendo or decrescendo over one long note in piano music?

There's at least one case of these "impossible" crescendi that definitely isn't a mistake: at the end of the Liszt Sonata, the fifth- to third-last chords are marked pp; crescendo; ppp. The only ...
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10 votes

Can you bass boost a song repeatedly?

Applying an equalizer twice gives (to a good approximation, at least in case of digital EQs) the same result as applying it only once with the controls cranked twice as far from neutral. I.e. there's ...
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10 votes
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Notation for rapid diminuendo

The amount of annotation you can put in does of course depend on how much horizontal space you have in this bar (this can drastically limit the amount of ps you might put there). Writing molto dim ...
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9 votes
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Is it necessary to put nuances indication at the start and end of a crescendo/decrescendo?

If you want it to end very quietly then, yes a ppp marking is appropriate. Although it is common to decrescendo to a very low volume at the end of a piece, it is still best to make your intention ...
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  • 20.9k
9 votes

Notation for rapid diminuendo

The Italian word 'niente' is usually used for 'nothing'. So you write "al niente" or "𝆓n". "𝆓ø" is often used instead of "𝆓n". According to Elaine Gould's ...
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