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C3. Musical Terms and Signs

Grade Six Music Theory General Knowledge, Lesson 3. Musical Terms and Signs

You can expect just about any musical term or symbol to crop up in a grade six music theory exam!


Here is a list of terms, organised into groups. However, it’s almost impossible to make a “complete” list of terms for this level.
Make sure you also know everything listed under grade five.
Always check the meaning of any new term you come across when you are playing music.

 

1. Tempo – from very slow to very fast

Italian

Larghissimo

Very, very slow

Andantino

At a moderate walking pace

Grave

Slow and solemn

Moderato

Moderately

Lento

Slowly

Allegretto

Moderately fast

Largo

Broadly

Allegro

Fast and bright

Larghetto

Rather broadly

Vivace

Fast and lively

Adagio

Slow and stately

Vivacissimo

Very fast and lively

Adagietto

Rather slow

Presto

Very fast

Andante

At a walking pace

Prestissimo

Extremely fast

 

 

French

Grave

Slowly and solemnly

Rapide

Fast

Lent

Slowly

Vif

Lively

Modéré

Moderately

Vite

Fast

 

 

German

Langsam

Slowly

Lebhaft

Lively

Mässig

Moderately

Rasch

Quickly

Bewegt

Animated

Schnell

Fast


2. Changes in tempo

Italian

Accelerando

Speeding up

Allargando

Growing broader

Doppio movimento

Twice as fast

Calando

Going slower

Più mosso

More movement

Meno mosso

Less movement

Precipitando

Hurrying

Rallentando

Gradually slowing

Stretto

In a faster tempo

Ritardando

Slowing

Stringendo

Pressing on faster

Ritenuto

Slightly slower

 

French

Plus vite

Faster

Moins vite

Less fast

 

3. Mood

Italian

Affettuoso

With feeling

Lamentoso

Mournfully

Agitato

Agitated

Leggero

Lightly

Appassionato

Passionately

Maestoso

Majestically

Animato

Animated

Malinconico

Melancholically

Brillante

Sparkling

Marcato

Marked

Bravura

Boldly

Marziale

In a military style

Cantabile

In a singing style

Mesto

Sadly

Dolce

Sweetly

Morendo

Dying

Energico

Energetically

Nobilmente

Nobly

Eroico

Heroically

Patetico

With emotion

Espressivo

Expressively

Pesante

Heavily

Furioso

Angrily

Saltando

Jumpingly

Giocoso

Merrily

Scherzando

Playfully

Gioioso

Joyfully

Sostenuto

Sustained

Grandioso

Grandly

Tenerezza

Tenderness

Grazioso

Gracefully

Tranquillamente

Calmly

Lacrimoso

Sadly

Trionfante

Triumphantly

 

For a comprehensive list of terms in all languages, see the wikipedia page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glossary_of_musical_terminology.


4. Bowing Directions

There are a lot of different ways a string player can use a bow.
The more common bowing instructions should be learnt for grade six music theory:

 

Bowing Directions 

Arco

With the bow

Spiccato

Bounce the bow

Sul ponticello

Play near the bridge

Con sordino

With the mute

Up bow

Up bow

Col legno

With the wood of the bow

Tremolo

Move the bow up and down extremely fast

Pizzicato

Pluck the strings

Senza sordino

Without the mute

Down bow

Down bow

 

5. Other Symbols

The following symbols also need to be learnt:

Other Symbols


arpeggio

Arpeggio (broken chord). The lowest note is played first, followed by the second, third etc, in quick succession.

tremolo

Tremolo (rapidly repeated note). Short diagonal lines across the stem of a note (or notes) show that it should be rapidly repeated. Often you will see “trem.” written above the note as well. A tremolo is a kind of special effect.
measured-semiquavers

Measured semiquavers. This is a shorthand way of writing out semiquavers or other fast notes. The beams show you which note value is intended. Although it looks similar to a tremolo, it doesn’t sound like one.

glissando

Glissando or portamento (rapidly play the notes between the two notated). This is sometimes seen in piano or trombone music. The musician plays all the notes in between the two notated notes as fast as possible.

stopped-note

Stopped note. Used for the French horn, this cross instructs the player to move his/her hand further into the instrument’s bell to create a muffled sound. The symbol is a cross or plus sign, over the note affected.

 

 

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