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Dynamics Music Signs - Sudden and Gradual Dynamic Changes

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Sudden Changes - Sforzando

Sudden changes have an interesting impact on the listener.
They break the routine instantly.
A student who just started to play the piano would probably encounter a gradual dynamics music change at the second movement of Joseph Haydn's Surprise Symphony for the first time.
A sudden Sforzando appears indicated by the notation og sf, or sfz after a continuing part, played softly (piano) in the beginning of the piece.
Sforzando means you have to play a strong, sudden accent.

You might see a fp (sfp) mark, stating that you'll have to play a Sforzandofollowed immediately by piano in order to increase the surprising effect (So you'll have to produce a strong accent and then immediately switch to playing soft again).

Gradual Changes - Crescendo and Diminuendo

Crescendo and Decrescendo/ Diminuendo - Dynamics Music Signs.

In the previous piano lesson we discussed dynamic signs that applied for a whole musical phrase or line. Now I'd like to add dynamic music signs that suggest a gradual change of loudness or softness in a musical line.

The word Crescendo means you have to get gradually louder while the opposite word Decrescendo or Diminuendo means you have to get gradually softer.

The Crescendo and Diminuendo dynamics music signs are stated by two lines coming towards each other or against each other.
The softest sound should be produced where the line meet.

Playing Crescendo on the Piano

The correct way to produce Crescendo on piano is to gradually increase the speed of falling to the next piano key.
You should be careful here since most students lack the sensitivity to create a gradual dynamic change when they start playing the piano.

If you increase the volumein the beginning of the phrase you will probably reach the limits of your forte in the middle of the phrase. What I suggest is that you hold your horses.

Keep the same volume a bit longer then you would like to and increase the volume in the last few notes just before the lines of the sign really break apart.

This depends of course on the length of the Crescendo (Sometimes a crescendo is to be performed through a whole musical passage and then the volume should be increased in a few steps).

Usually when a Crescendo is to be performed through a long passage you won't see the hairpins (those two lines) but the word cresc. Will appear below the notes instead (Accept if there's a text below and then it will appear above to avoid confusion).

Playing Decrescendo/ Diminuendo on the Piano

When you'll see the dynamics music signs of Decrescendo/Diminuendo you'll realize it's much harder to produce it on the piano.
Reducing the level of the speed without causing tension and without moving to pure silence demands more practice.

Once again, on short passages I suggest you hold your horses and reduce the volume of the sound at the middle of the phrase and not right at the beginning.

You should remember that you have to communicate when you play piano. So if no one hears what your doing because you play too soft you basically missed the whole point.

Other people should hear you even when you play as soft as possible (PPP).
So make sure you're still heard when you fade away unless you're at the end of the piece and you're supposed to disappear into a complete silence.

Crescendo and Diminuendo E.D Exercise

Perform the exercise in two ways.
Start by performing a Crescendo while ascending from C to G.
Perform a Diminuendo When you start descending .
You'll realize it's harder to perform the last dynamics music sign, Since getting softer from music forte to playing soft is harder to break to parts.

Work on longer passages then by performing a continuing Crescendo all the way up from middle C to G and back.

Here's a really useful tip from me... It's much easier to perform this exercise when you sing what you're playing.
You'll realize your voice is telling you when the gradual change should appear.

Same should apply for the left hand, for the counter movement and for the parallel movement.

Finally, here are two pieces with sudden and gradual dynamic changes.

Click here if you haven't signed to Piano Playground, our free E-zine yet. Make sure you do that in order to get the username and password codes for the Dynamics Music piano pieces I provide here under.

The Surprise Symphony Download
The Chicken Dance Download

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