Musical Term Glossary – Italian Terms


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a: at, to, by, for, in, in the style of

accelerando (accel.): getting faster

ad libitum (ad lib.): at liberty, freely

adagietto: rather slow

adagio: slow

affettuoso: affectionate, tender

affrettando: hurrying

agitato: agitated

al, alla: in the style of

alla breve: 2/2 time, 2 minim beats in a bar

alla marcia: in the style of a march

alla misura: in strict time

allargando: getting broader, louder, and slower

allegretto: rather fast

allegro: fast, lively

allegro assai: very fast

amabile: pleasant

amore: love

amoroso: loving

andante: at a walking speed

andantino: faster or slower than andante

a niente: dying away

anima: soul, spirit

animando: becoming more lively

animato: animated, lively

a piacere: at pleasure

appassionato: with passion

assai: very

a tempo: in time

attacca: go straight on


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ben: well

bene: well

bis: twice

bravura: brilliance

brio: vigour


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calando: dying away

calmato: calm

cantabile: in a singing style

cantando: singing

col: with

colla: with the

colla parte: follow the soloist

colla voce: follow the singer

come: as, similar to

come prima: as before

come supra: as above

comodo: convenient

con: with

con alcuna licenza: with freedom in tempo and rhythm

con anima: with feeling

con bravura: with brilliance

con brio: with vigour, lively

con moto: with movement

con sordini: with mutes

crescendo (cresc.): getting louder


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da capo (D.C.): repeat from the beginning

dal segno (D.S.): repeat from the sign Segno

dal segno al coda (D.S. al coda): repeat from the sign Segnountil coda

dal segno al fine (D.S. al fine): repeat from the sign Segnountil the end

deciso: with determination

decrescendo (decresc.): getting softer

delicato: delicate

diminuendo (dim.): getting softer

di nuove: again

dolce: sweet

dolcissimo (dolciss.): very sweetly

dolente: sad, mournful

dolore: grief

doloroso: sorrowful

doppio movimento: twice as fast


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e: and

ed: and

energico: energetic

espressione: expression

espressivo (espress., espr.): expressive

estinto: as soft as possible, lifeless


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facile: easy

felice: happy

feroce: fierce, ferociously

fine: the end

flessibile: in a flexible tempo

forte (f): loud

fortepiano (fp): loud, then immediately soft

fortissimo (ff): very loud

forza: force

fuoco: fire

furioso: furious


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giocoso: merry

giusto: exact

grandioso: grandly

grave: very slow, solemn

grazioso: graceful


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impetuoso: impetuous

incalzando: getting quicker

in relievo: prominently


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lacrimoso: sad, tearful

lagrimando: sadly

lagrimoso: sadly

lamentoso: lamenting

largamente: broadly

larghetto: rather slow

largo: slow, stately

legato: smoothly

leggiero: light

lento: slow

liberamente: freely

licenza: freedom

l’istesso: the same

l’istesso tempo: at the same speed

loco: at normal pitch after 8va sign

lugubre: sadly

lunga: long

lunga pausa: long pause

lusingando: coaxing, in a sweet and persuasive style


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ma: but

maestoso: majestic

mancando: dying away

mano destra (M.D.): right hand

mano sinistra (M.S.): left hand

marcato (marc.): accented

martellato: hammered out

marziale: in a military style

meno: less

meno mosso: slower

mesto: sad

mezza voce: in an undertone

mezzo: half

mezzo forte (mf): moderately loud

mezzo piano (mp): moderately soft

misterioso: mysteriously

misura: measure

moderato: moderately

molto: very, much

morendo: dying away

mosso: movement

moto: movement

movimento: movement


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niente: nothing

nobilmente: nobly

non: not

non troppo: not too much

nuovo: new


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obbligato: obligatory, cannot be left out

ossia: or, alternatively, an alternative version to a passage

ostinato: a frequently repeated rhythmic or melodic feature

ottava (ott.): octave

ottava bassa: octave lower

ottava alta: octave higher


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parlando: in a speaking manner

parlante: in a speaking manner

patetico: with pathos

pausa: a pause

pedale (ped.): depress the sustaining pedal of the pianoforte

perdendosi: dying away

pesante: heavy

piacevole: pleasant

piangevole: plaintive, mournfully

piano (p): soft

pianissimo (pp): very soft

pietoso: tenderly

pietosamente: tenderly

piu: more

placido: peaceful

pochettino (poch.): rather little

pochissimo (pochiss.): as little as possible

poco: a little

possibile: possible

precipitando: precipitately

precipitato: precipitately

precipitoso: precipitately

presto: very fast

prima: first

prima volta: first time

primo: first


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quasi: as if

quasi recitativo: like a recitative

quasi una fantasia: like a fantasia


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rallentando (rall.): getting slower

repetizione: repetition

replica: repetition

rigoroso: strictly

rigore: strictly

rinforzando (rf., rfz.): reinforcing

risoluto: strong, bold

risvegliato: getting more animated

ritardando (ritard., rit.): getting slower

ritenuto (riten., rit.): held back

ritmico: rhythmically

rubato: with some freedom of time


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scherzando: playful, joking

scherzoso: playful, joking

secco: short, detached

seconda: second

seconda volta: second time

secondo: second

segue: go straight on

semplice: simple, plain

sempre: always

senza: without

senza misura: in free time

senza sordini: without mutes

sforzando (sf.): forced, accented

sforzato (sfz.): forced, accented

simile (sim.): in the same way

slargando: getting slower

slentando: getting slower

smorzando (smorz.): dying away

soave: gently

solenne: solemn

sonoramente: sonorous, with rich tone

sonoro: sonorous, with rich tone

sopra: above

sordini (sord.): mute

sostenuto: sustained

sotto: below

sotto voce: in an undertone

spiritoso: spirited

staccato (stacc.): detached

strepitoso: noisily

stretto: getting faster

stringendo: getting faster

subito: suddenly


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tacet: silent, do not play

tanto: so much

tempo: speed, time

tempo comodo: at a comfortable speed

tempo rubato: with some freedom of time

teneramente: tenderly

tenerezza: tenderness

tenuto (ten.): held

tosto: rapid, swift

tranquillo: calm

tre: three

tre corde: release the left pedal of the pianoforte

tremolando, tremolo (trem.): the rapid repetition of a note or the rapid alternation between two notes

trionfale: triumphantly

trionfante: triumphantly

triste: sad, sorrowful

tristamente: sad, sorrowful

troppo: too much

tutti: all


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una: one

una corda: depress the left pedal of the pianoforte

uno: one

un peu: a little

un poco: a little

unisono (unis.): to play in unison after having been divided


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veloce: swift

vibrato: vibrating

vigoroso: vigorously

vivace: fast, lively

vivo: fast, lively

voce: voice

volante: fast, flying

volta: time

volti subito (V.S.): turn the page quickly


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