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