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Student NotesJazz is a very passionate music to play. Like "Classical" music, Jazz can be played very loudly and very softly throughout the whole song. These changes in loudness and softness are called "Dynamics." In the figure above are some common "dynamic markings." These markings are used by the composer to show the player when to play softer or when to play louder! These changes in loudness and softness make the music much more exciting and interesting to listen to. If you were to play a song with exactly the same dynamic level throughout, it would be very boring to listen to. You might remember some bands or musicians that play at the same dynamic level throughout the entire performance (such as a loud rock or heavy metal band). This kind of performance can be really boring and a mark of poor training in music. Even "Jimi Hendrix" (famous electric guitar player in the 1960 's) used many dynamic variations in his music including "feedback" from his guitar and amplifier. Feedback is a high pitched electronic squeal generated when a microphone or a guitars' pickup gets to close to it's own amplifier. Hendrix was certainly a master of dynamics and feedback.

The names for each marking are as follows:

  • pp - pianissimo
  • p - piano
  • mf - mezzo forte
  • f - forte
  • ff - fortissimo
  • fff - fortississimo (with an attitude, *grin*)

The dynamic markings are placed just below the note were the composer wants the change to occur. Look at the figure above. If you see the dynamic marking and no other lines next to it, the change should be abrupt. On the next page is an example of dynamic markings that change gradually and not abruptly.

12 Note Companion

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