Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Dictionary of Terms for Classical Guitar Sheet Music

Tempo Terms: These are the common terms that indicate the speed of a piece or of a section of a piece of classical guitar music.

  • Largo Adagio - Very Slow

  • Andante - Very Slow

  • Andantino - Medium Slow

  • Moderato - Moderate speed

  • Allegretto - Medium Fast

  • Allegro - Fast

  • Vivace = lively

  • Presto - Very fast

  • Meno Mosso - Slower

  • Piu Mosso - Faster

There are Terms that indicate a speed modification within only 1 measure or just a few measures.

  • Ritardando (rit.) Gradually slowing down

  • Rallentando (rall.) Also indicates a gradual slowing down

  • Accelerando (accel.) - Gradually speeding up

  • A tempo - Return to previous speed. You would normally see this after a Ritardando or Accelerando. What it means is that you are playing at the speed indicated by the piece then you are either given a Ritardando or Accelerando for a period of time then when the A tempo comes up you know to return to the pieces normal speed.

  • The Fermata or Hold symbol is either above or below a note and it indicates you should hold the note longer than is written. How long you hold it is up to your personal discretion.

Terms that Indicate volume or change in volume

= piano, means soft


= Forte, means loud


= Pianissimo, means very soft


= Mezzoforte, means moderately loud


= fortissimo, means very loud


= Forte-piano, means loud then immediately soft again


or cresc. = Crescendo, means to gradually increase the sound

or dim. = Diminuendo, means to gradually decrease the sound

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