Classical music: learn to pronounce all the Italian terms

Published in: News 26/08/2014

Vibrato, vivace, pizzicato... If you love classical music, you must know the most important Italian music terms and their meaning. But you need to learn the correct pronunciation as well: click and listen!


A cappella - sung without instrumental accompanimentAdagio - slowly
Agitato - agitated, restlessAllegro - fast, at a brisk speed
Amabile - amiable, pleasantAndante - moderately slow
Andantino - lighter than Andante, and usually quickerArco - played on a stringed instrument
Arioso -  like an aria but less formalBis - twice
Brio - vigour, vivaciousness 
(eg: con brio = with vigour)
Calando - gradually decreasing in speed and volume
Cantabile - in a smooth singing styleCapriccioso - in a free and impulsive style
Crescendo - gradually increasing in loudness Decrescendo - gradually decreasing in loudness
Diminuendo - same meaning of DecrescendoDolce - sweetly and softly
Energico - played with energyForte - loud, strong
Fortissimo - very loudGiocoso - playful, humerous
Gioioso - joyful, merryGrave - very slow, solemn
Impetuoso - impetuous, forcefullyIncalzando - getting quicker
Inquieto - restlessLegato -  without breaks between notes
Leggero - lightly, delicately, gentlyLento slow
Maestoso - to be performed in a majestic mannerMarcato - played with emphasis
Mezzoforte - moderately loudMezzopiano - moderately soft
Moderato - played at a moderate paceMosso - fast and with animation
Pausa - pausePianissimo - very soft
Piano - softPizzicato - plucking the strings of a stringed instrument 

Placido - calm, peaceful

Soave - gentle, smooth

Sonoro, resonant, loudSostenuto - played in a sustained or prolonged manner
Staccato - each note sharply detached from the othersStretto -  performed in quicker time
Tempo - speed, paceTenuto - a note held for its full time value 
Tranquillo - calm, quiet mannerTrionfale - triumphant
Veloce - played at a fast tempoVibrato - rapid, slight variation in pitch in playing 
Vigoroso - vigorous, strongVivace - lively

by Patrizia Serra


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