In music, markings added to show the varying degrees or changes in volume or loudness. They are written as words, abbreviations, letters, or signs. For example: dynamics for volume include f
for forte (loud), mf
for mezzo forte (medium loud), mp
for mezzo piano (medium soft), and p
for piano (soft); changes in volume include crescendo
(becoming gradually louder), and diminuendo
(becoming gradually softer); accents include sf
for sforzando (meaning a sudden accent on a note or chord).
Dynamic expression developed slowly during the 18th century as improvements were made to instruments of the orchestra that increased their freedom of expression. The piano was also becoming a more important instrument at this time. Its name fortepiano was used to advertise its greater expressive advantages over the fixed-register harpsichord. After 1950 many composers experimented with serialism (twelve-tone music) and attempted to bring dynamics under serial control.
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