|Class Piano Resources: Materials <> Curriculum <> Interactive Classes|
Dynamics in Music
Dynamics (soft and loud)
DYNAMICS (soft, loud, etc.) are included in a category of musical terms called EXPRESSIONS. Here is a definition of "expression" :
The keyword here is, FEELING. Dynamics as much as anything in music is a way to express FEELING or EMOTION. Any vehicle or act of expression (such as smiling) is a METAPHOR or SYMBOL for a specific "feeling" or emotion. Some emotions include:
Dynamics in music is a way to cause the listener (as well as the performer) to potentially experience an emotion. There is no guarantee that the emotion will be experienced (just like there is no guarantee that someone will laugh when you tell a joke). But, the POTENTIAL is there.
Individual dynamics (soft, loud, etc.) are not concrete (objective) expressions of a specific emotion. For example, soft music does not automatically make one FEEL fearful, happy, etc. But, the dynamic combined with the CHARACTER of the music has the potential to affect a specific emotion. In other words, the CONTEXT of the dynamic will determine what emotion is intended or experienced.
Classical music has a broader range of expression (particularly dynamically) than most popular music. In classical music, the performer is expected to span the FULL RANGE of dynamic expression. In popular music performance (particularly amplified performances) there is often only ONE or TWO dynamics.
OK, enough theory... If you would like more information about these weighty philosophical concepts, please explore these topics: metaphor, symbolism, linguistics, psychology of music.
Creating specific dynamics such as SOFT, LOUD, etc.
A specific dynamic such as SOFT is perceived as being soft in two ways:
Hopefully, point #1 is self explanatory. Point #2 may need some explanation. It is beyond the scope of this discussion to go deeply into the physics of sound (acoustics). However, it would be helpful for you to peruse some websites to become familiar with a few terms which describe SOUND. Check out:
Any sound has physical properties which can be measured in terms of its "loudness" or "volume." Scientists use the term, AMPLITUDE to describe loudness or volume. There are a couple ways to measure amplitude:
OK, let's cut to the chase... how can you perform music with accurate dynamics? One big difference between professional musicians and amateurs and students is the ability to perform with a FULL RANGE OF DYNAMIC EXPRESSION. Students often have a very limited dynamic PALATE somewhere between mezzo forte and forte.
Here are some suggestions on how to produce consistent dynamics in your performances:
Here is the range of dynamic expression in classical music:
Dedicated Fundamentals of Music Sites:
© 2013 SMITH CREEK MUSIC
P.O. Box 140446 Nashville, TN 37214
Site last updated: January 10, 2013