Dynamics have to do with the loudness or softness of parts of a musical composition. Also the symbols in sheet music indicating volume. Instructions are normally in Italian and stem from two terms: forte or f, (loud) and piano or p (quiet). More subtle distinctions are indicated by reiterations, fortissimo or ff (louder than f ) or pianissimo or pp (quieter than p), or by combination with mezzo or m (half), mezzoforte or mf (less loud than f ) or mezzopiano or mp (more loud than p). Some of the more common dynamical markings are shown in the table below.


dynamical marking meaning
< Crescendo; getting louder
> Diminuendo; getting quieter
pp Pianissimo; very quiet
p Piano; quiet
f Forte; loud
ff Fortissimo; very loud
mf Mezzo forte; fairly loud
mp Mezzo piano; fairly quiet
sf Sforzando; sudden accent (on that note)
> (near note head) Accent; emphasis on a particular note