Classical music: learn to pronounce all the Italian terms

Published in: News 22/01/2023

Vibrato, vivace, pizzicato… The words of music are Italian. If you love music, you have to learn their meaning and how to pronounce them correctly. Click the blue words and listen to their correct pronunciation or read the written pronunciation (the stress is on the capital letters).

All the italian musical terms

A cappella - sung without instrumental accompaniment. Pronunciation: ah cah-PEHL-lah (try to pronounce the double l)
Adagio - slowly. Pronunciation: ah-DAH-joh (the j has the sound of the g in gentleman)
Agitato - agitated, restless. Pronunciation: ah-jee-TAH-toh (the j has the sound of the g in gentleman)
Allegro - fast, at a brisk speed. Pronunciation: ahl-LEH-groh (try to pronounce the double l)
Amabile - amiable, pleasant. Pronunciation: ah-mah-BEE-leh
Andante - moderately slow. Pronunciation: ahn-DAHN-teh
Andantino - lighter than Andante, and usually quicker. Pronunciation: ahn-dahn-TEE-noh
Arco - played on a stringed instrument. Pronunciation: AHR-koh
Arioso -  like an aria but less formal. Pronunciation: ah-ree-OH-zoh (z as in zebra)
Bis - twice. Pronunciation: BEES (s as in sun)
Brio - vigour, vivaciousness (eg: con brio = with vigour). Pronunciation: BREE-oh
Calando - gradually decreasing in speed and volume. Pronunciation: cah-LAHN-doh
Cantabile - in a smooth singing style. Pronunciation: cahn-TAH-bee-leh
Capriccioso - in a free and impulsive style. Pronunciation: cah-pree-CHOH-so (s as in poison)
Crescendo - gradually increasing in loudness. Pronunciation: creh-SHEHN-doh
Decrescendo - gradually decreasing in loudness. Pronunciation: deh-creh-SHEHN-doh
Diminuendo - same meaning of Decrescendo. Pronunciation: dee-mee-noo-EHN-doh
Dolce - sweetly and softly. Pronunciation: DOHL-cheh
Energico - played with energy. Pronunciation: eh-nehr-JEE-coh (the j has the sound of the g in gentleman)
Forte - loud, strong. Pronunciation: FOHR-teh
Fortissimo - very loud. Pronunciation: fohr-tee-SEE-moh
Giocoso - playful, humerous. Pronunciation: joh-COH-so (s as in poison)
Gioioso - joyful, merry. Pronunciation: joh-EEOH-soh (s as in poison)
Grave - very slow, solemn. Pronunciation: GRAH-veh
Impetuoso - impetuous, forcefully. Pronunciation: eem-peh-TWO-so (s as in poison)
Incalzando - getting quicker. Pronunciation: een-cahl-ZAHN-doh (z as in pizza)
Inquieto - restless. Pronunciation: een-kwee-EH-toh
Legato -  without breaks between notes. Pronunciation: leh-GAH-toh
Leggero - lightly, delicately, gently. Pronunciation: leh-JEH-roh (the j has the sound of the g in gentleman)
Lento - slow. Pronunciation: LEHN-toh
Maestoso - to be performed in a majestic manner. Pronunciation: mah-eh-STO-soh (the first s as in sun, the second s as in poison)
Marcato - played with emphasis. Pronunciation: mahr-CAH-toh
Mezzoforte - moderately loud. Pronunciation: meh-zoh-FOHR-teh (z as in pizza)
Mezzopiano - moderately soft. Pronunciation: meh-zoh-PEEAH-noh
Moderato - played at a moderate pace. Pronunciation: moh-deh-RAH-toh
Mosso - fast and with animation. Pronunciation: MOS-soh (both s as in sun)
Pausa - pause. Pronunciation: pah-OO-sah
Pianissimo - very soft. Pronunciation: pee-ah-NEE-see-moh
Piano - soft. Pronunciation: pee-AH-noh
Pizzicato - plucking the strings of a stringed instrument. Pronunciation: pee-zee-CAH-toh (z as in pizza)
Placido - calm, peaceful. Pronunciation: plah-CHEE-doh
Soave - gentle, smooth. Pronunciation: soh-AH-veh (s as in sun)
Sonoro, resonant, loud. Pronunciation: soh-NOH-roh (s as in sun)
Sostenuto - played in a sustained or prolonged manner. Pronunciation: soh-steh-NOO-toh (both s as in sun)
Staccato - each note sharply detached from the others. Pronunciation: stah-KAH-toh (s as in sun)
Stretto -  performed in quicker time. Pronunciation: STREH-toh (s as in sun)
Tempo - speed, pace. Pronunciation: TEHM-poh
Tenuto - a note held for its full time value. Pronunciation: teh-NOO-toh
Tranquillo - calm, quiet manner. Pronunciation: trahn-KWEE-lloh (try to pronounce the double l)
Trionfale - triumphant. Pronunciation: tree-ohn-FAH-leh
Veloce - played at a fast tempo. Pronunciation: veh-LOH-cheh
Vibrato - rapid, slight variation in pitch in playing. Pronunciation: vee-BRAH-toh
Vigoroso - vigorous, strong. Pronunciation: vee-goh-ROH-soh
Vivace - lively. Pronunciation: vee-VAH-cheh


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