Advanced Music Theory tutorials
3. Crescendo and decrescendo
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So do I like have to learn Italian now or what?

  1. Topics of discussion
  2. Crescendo and decrescendo explained

1. Topics of discussion

In this tutorial, we will be learning all about dynamic volume markers. So, let's have some fun.

2. Crescendo and decrescendo explained

In our previous tutorial, we discussed about volume indicators. And they are pretty good and all. But during some songs, you may notice some sections that have volume changes that occur in a gradual manner. Either the volume increases constantly towards a maximum or it decreases towards a minimum. But the change is not sudden, it's gradual.

And that's where these two musical terms intervene, so to speak. Crescendo tells you that you have to increase the volume towards a maximum value during a section of a song. Decrescendo tells you that you have to decrease the volume towards a minimum value during a section of a song.

On a music sheet, this looks something like this:

Crescendo Decrescendo

So, this is all fine and dandy, but how much does one have to increase or decrease the volume you ask? Well, it all depends on your style of playing and on the volume indicators present in the song. It usually goes something like this:

  • figure out the volume level at the beginning of the section - when approaching a crescendo or decrescendo section, you need to figure out what level you should play those notes at if there was no crescendo indicator at all
  • figure out the volume at the end of the section - there will be times when the end of the crescendo/decrescendo section of the song will have a volume indicator; if it does, then you know what the volume you should stride for is; if there is no indicator, you should try to modify the volume by one or two levels maximum; for example, if the beginning is in mezzo-piano, and you have a crescendo section, you should try to increase the volume to mezzo-forte or forte maximum, if that's how you are feeling the song; the safe option in this case would be mezzo-forte though

That about covers it for this tutorial. In the next one, we will be focusing on accentuated notes and pedal indications. See you then.

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