Italian musical terms

From MusiCAD

In traditional music notation you will find a lot of Italian musical terms.

When notating music, it is custom to write them at a predefined position using a predefined font.

  • tempo oriented tems like adagio are usually written above the staff (using text type info 1 <h>)
  • dynamic oriented terms like crescendo are usually written below the staff (using text type info 2 <i>)
Abbreviatura short hand notation (abbreviations)
A cappella Voice only - without instrumental accompaniment
Accaciatura short grace note
Accellerando accellerate tempo
Adagio Slow tempo with expression
Ad lib / ad libitum 'as you like it'
Agile Quick / lively
Agitato Agitated
Al Fine Move to end.
Allegretto a bit fast and lively allegro
Allegro Fast and lively
Allegro agitato Fast and agitated
Allegro con brio Fast
Allegro con fuoco Fast and furious
Allegro con spirito Fast, with spirit
Allegro moderato Moderately fast
All ottava one octave higher then notated
Andante Moderately slow
Andantino Andante-like; might be faster or slower than andante
Animato Lively
Arco Played with the bow (contrary to plucked, pizzicato)
Animando Getting livelier
Apoggiatura long grace notes
A tempo Play in previous tempo
Assai 'Very' as in Allegro assai
Attacca Start at once
Ballabile To be danced on
Basso continuo Accompaniment using clavichord and bass / violoncello
Bel canto Sung as in Italian opera 18/19e century
Bruscamente Brusque
Calando Diminshing
Coda Tail piece
Cambiare Exchange (instrument)
Cantando Sung
Cantabile Like being sung
Capriccio Free form passage, showing skills
Chiuso Closed (horn)
Contra Against
Col legno Playing a violin /cello using the wooden side of a bow
Coperti Covered (drum, muted with a cloth)
Crescendo Gradually getting louder
Da Capo From the beginning
Decrescendo Gradually getting softer
Diminuendo Gradually getting softer
Dolce Sweet, soft
Dal segno Starting from the sign
Entrata Introduction
Fermate Played differently in time (mostly longer than notated)
Fine End
Forte Loud
Fortissimo Very loud
Forzando Using strong accents
Forzatissimo Using very strong accents
Furioso Vurig, heftig, woedend
Grave Serious
Glissando Gliding
Imitando Imitating
Interludium Intermediate piece
Intermezzo Intermediate piece
Legato Tie notes together
Lento Slow
Martellato Hammering
Marcia In strict tempo at a marching pace (120 bpm) . a la Marcia
Meno Less
Moderato Moderate tempo
Molto More
Mosso Lively
Parlando Spoken (not sung)
Passione With passion
Piu More
Poco A little bit
Portato Between staccato and legato
Pianissimo Very soft
Pizzicato / Pizz. Plucked (instead of bowed)
Prelude Introduction
Prima vista At first sight reading
Prima volta First time (1)
Rallentando Getting slower
Rapido Very fast
Religioso Religious
Rinforzando Emphasizing a group of notes
Ritardando Getting slower
Ritenuto Decelerating
Rubato Free in tempo
Scordatura Using a non-standard instrument tuning
Secunda volta Second time
Senza tempo No fixed tempo
Senza replica Without repetitions
Sforzando Emphasizing one note or chord
Sforzato-piano sfp first strong, immediatly thereafter soft
Spiccato With a bouncing bow - every note accented
Staccato Played (much) shorter than notated
Staccatissimo Play a note as short as possible
Stringendo Getting faster, stronger
Tacet Silent (no chords)
Toccata Free style music piece
Tenuto Somewhat louder
Tremolo Repeating short notes
Tutti Everyone together
Unisono Single voiced
Veloce Fast
Vibrato Pitch modulation (speed and amplitude may vary)
Vivace Lively, pleasantly