Music Theory – Performance Directions

Hi guys,

With all the exams coming up I decided to post a few performance directions. I hope this helps 🙂

Grade 1 theory Italian terms

This page contains the main Italian musical terms needed for grade 1 theory.  Pupils are required to have memorised the English translations of the Italian terms.

accelerando / accel. gradually getting quicker
adagio slow
allegretto fairly quick (but not as quick as allegro)
allegro quick
andante at a medium (walking) speed
cantabile in a singing style
crescendo / cresc. / gradually getting louder
da capo / D.C. repeat from the beginning
dal segno / D.S. repeat from the sign
decrescendo / decresc. gradually getting quieter
diminuendo / dim. / gradually getting quieter
fine the end
/ forte loud
/ fortissimo very loud
legato smoothly
lento slow
mezzo half
/ mezzo forte moderately loud
/ mezzo piano moderately quiet
moderato moderately
/ piano quiet
/ pianissimo very quiet
poco a little
rallentando / rall. gradually getting slower
ritardando / rit. gradually getting slower
ritenuto / rit. held back
staccato / stacc. detached
tempo speed, time (a tempo: in time)
8va octave
play an octave higher
NB va may be omitted
play an octave lower
NB vb may be omitted or even replaced with va
pause on the note
  72 crochet beats in a minute
accent (placed over or under a note)
slur (joining two different notes)
dot over / under note = staccato


repeat marks – at the second sign go back to the first sign and repeat the music from there (if the first sign is missed out, repeat from the beginning)


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