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victoria Williams Music Theory

Victoria Williams

LmusTCL BA Mus (Hons) MISM

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17. Foreign Terms (ABRSM)

Grade 2 Music Theory - Lesson 17: Foreign Terms & Symbols

Suitable for:  ABRSM Grade 2   GCSE   AP Music Theory Beginners 

This page is for ABRSM candidates (revised list, July 2020). For Trinity candidates please see Trinity Terms.  


On From Grade One

For Grade Two Music Theory, you have to know all the foreign musical terms and symbols which are listed for Grade One, and a few more. 

You can find a list of the Grade One musical terms here, and musical symbols here. 

In each grade of the ABRSM music theory exams there are more foreign terms to learn, but you always have to know all the terms from the earlier grades too.


Metronome Markings

A metronome is a gadget which makes a loud, regular clicking noise. You can set the speed of the clicks. Metronomes are used so that musicians know exactly how fast to play a piece of music, and they're also useful to practise with. 

Metronome markings sometimes appear above the stave, to tell you about the tempo of the music, because the Italian tempo terms are sometimes not very exact. Metronome directions are made up of a note symbol and a number, joined together by the equals sign, like this:

= 126

This means that the tempo of the music should be about 126 crotchets (quarter notes) per minute. Metronome indications always tell you how many notes to play per minute. (Of course, it's best if you actually have a metronome so that you can set it to click at the speed indicated.)

Metronome markings use the note length which is the beat shown by the time signature. So if the time signature is 3/2, the beat is a minim (half note), and there will be a minim (half note) shown in the metronome marking. Time signatures with a lower number 4 have a crotchet beat (quarter note), and if the lower number is 8, the beat is a quaver (eighth note).


New Terms for Grade Two ABRSM

Italian Term Pronunciation Abbreviation English Meaning
Allargando al-lar-gan-do   Broadening (getting a little slower and probably a little louder)
Grave grar-vay   Very slow and solemn
Largo lar-go   Slow and stately
Lento len-toe   Slowly
Presto press-toe   Very fast
Ritenuto rit-e-noo-toe riten. rit. Held back
Vivace vi-var-chay   Lively and quickly
Vivo vee-voe   Lively and quickly
Fortepiano for-tay pi-ya-no FP Loud then immediately soft
Espressivo es-press-ee-voe Espress., Espr. Expressive
Grazioso grat-zee-oh-so   Gracefully
Tenuto ten-oo-toe   Held
A a (as in "cat")   At, To, By, For, In, In the style of
Al, Alla al, a-la   To the, In the manner/style of
Con, Col kon, kol   With
Dal segno dal senyo D.S. From the sign
E, Ed e (as in "bed")   And
Ma ma (as in "man")   But
Marcia mart-sia   March
Meno men-no   Less
Molto mol-toe   Very, Much
Mosso, Moto moss-o, mo-to   Movement
Non nonn   Not
Piu pi-yu   More
Poco po-ko   Little
Senza sen-za   Without
Troppo tropp-o   Too much (non troppo = not too much)



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