MU­SIC READ­ING

In this les­son Char­lie Griffiths ex­plains how you can be more emo­tive or groovy when you ap­ply dy­nam­ics and ar­tic­u­la­tions to your mu­sic.

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

This month Char­lie Griffiths ex­plains how to use and in­ter­pret dy­nam­ics and ar­tic­u­la­tions within mu­si­cal no­ta­tion.

The first method of de­not­ing the vol­ume of a piece or a sec­tion is by us­ing the let­ters p and f - pi­ano and forte, or loud and soft.

It Is un­usual for a piece of mu­sic to be played en­tirely at the same level of in­ten­sity and vol­ume through­out. some parts may be played strongly and loudly while other sec­tions might be more suited to a lighter, more sen­si­tive touch. th­ese changes in vol­ume are called dy­nam­ics and they can be marked on the score in a num­ber of ways.

The first method of de­not­ing the gen­eral vol­ume of a piece or a sec­tion is by us­ing the let­ters p and f. th­ese are the ini­tials of the words pi­ano and forte; ‘p’ means soft and ‘f’ means loud, and th­ese can be ap­plied to the gui­tar by pick­ing softly or harder to pro­duce dif­fer­ent lev­els of vol­ume. Vary­ing de­grees of vol­ume are in­di­cated by adding more let­ters; pp (pi­anis­simo) means even qui­eter and ff (for­tis­simo) means even louder. the let­ter ‘m’, short for ‘mezzo’ can be used in con­junc­tion with th­ese in­di­ca­tions and means mod­er­ately. Mezzo-pi­ano or ‘mp’ means mod­er­ately soft and rep­re­sents your nor­mal play­ing level.

a crescendo is a grad­ual in­crease in vol­ume over a des­ig­nated time. It is shown as a long hair­pin shape be­neath the stave with two lines con­verg­ing on the left and get­ting grad­u­ally wider apart as they travel right. start qui­etly at the be­gin­ning of the hair­pin and in­crease the vol­ume in­cre­men­tally and evenly un­til the end of the di­verg­ing lines. the dimin­u­endo is the op­po­site of a crescendo and is some­times called a de­crescendo. It is also shown as a hair­pin, but with the pointy end to­wards the right. With dimin­u­endo the mu­sic should start loudly and grad­u­ally be­come qui­eter.

Of­ten cer­tain notes within a pas­sage or riff are stressed more loudly than the oth­ers. this is com­pa­ra­ble to our speak­ing voices in that we stress the im­por­tant words slightly more than the less im­por­tant ones. th­ese vari­a­tions make for a more in­ter­est­ing lis­ten­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. In mu­sic we re­fer to those in­di­vid­ual louder notes as ‘ac­cents’ and are in­di­cated by small V shapes ro­tated 90º left which are placed ei­ther above or be­low the note-head in ques­tion. a very loud ac­cent is shown as a com­pletely in­verted V shape.

stac­cato means that the notes should be played in a ‘bro­ken’ fash­ion, with each note sep­a­rated from the next by a mo­ment of si­lence. this es­sen­tially means that there are rests be­tween the notes, but the lengths of those rests are not spec­i­fied on the no­ta­tion. Each note is sim­ply writ­ten at its full value and a small dot is placed above or be­low the note head. th­ese dots aren’t to be con­fused with ‘dot­ted notes’, who’s dots are placed to the right of the note head. the length of space you leave in be­tween notes is up to your artis­tic in­ter­pre­ta­tion of what sounds good to you, but gen­er­ally stac­cato notes are played as short as pos­si­ble.

the fol­low­ing ex­am­ples demon­strate th­ese dy­nam­ics; play through each slowly, mak­ing sure that you are play­ing the di­rec­tions ac­cu­rately. use the back­ing tracks pro­vided, or a metronome and fo­cus on stay­ing at the same tempo through­out.

Dy­nam­ics can be ap­plied to chords as well as lead play­ing

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