Vocabulary, part 1

Articulation – the degree of separation between a series of individual notes; the effect can be either very detached (staccato) or smooth and connected (legato). An example of staccato is when the flutes play the main melody in Danse Macabre. An example of legato is the Death’s theme, played by the solo violin, in Danse Macabre.

Dynamics – degrees of loudness of softness; common markings are piano (soft), forte (loud), and crescendo (gradually increase volume from softer to louder). An example of a piano marking is the beginning of the “March to the Scaffold”, where even the drum rolls are very soft; then the music quickly crescendos.

Form – the structure of a music piece. An example of form is a symphony, which usually has several movements, like Symphonie Fantastique. Another example of form is an orchestral tone poem, which only has one movement, like Danse Macabre.

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