How do I use dynamics inbetween the recognized values?

• Jan 22, 2022 - 22:02

Hi all. In most of my songs, I want to slowly change the volume of a dynamic at the start of a new measure, but not so much that it reaches the next dynamic value. For example, the Dynamic "pp" has a dynamic value of 32, while the next dynamic, "p", has a value of 49. Many times, I want to slowly up the volume, perhaps for 8 measures, from volume "32", to say, "40", then, perhaps 9 measures later, up it again to 49. So, what I have been doing is post a dynamic of "pp" (32), then 8 measures later, post it again "pp" but set the value at 40 in the inspector and in measure 7, insert a < mark to let the player know the repeat "pp" has now increased in value. Then, 9 measures after that, I post a "p", with a value of 49.

Somehow, I suspect this is not correct, but there is no intermediate dynamic mark for a value of 40. So, what is the correct way of doing this (and don't tell me I can only use 32 or 49 but nothing in between. thanks). Likewise, I don't want a gradual increase over 8 measures, I want the volume to go from 32 at measure 7 to 40 at measure 8. What is the "correct" way to notate this?

Thanks in advance



You could probably get away with just sticking a crescendo or hairpin without specifying what you're increasing towards. It'd be a bit more up to interpretation, but you would still get roughly the same result: increasing over the measures you want to increase over, towards the higher dynamic.

If you don't want a gradual increase but just want to say to up the volume? "meno pp". Literally, less pianissimo. Or "poco cresc.", if you just want to say "a bit louder".

And for what it's worth, there's no clear attachment of velocity to dynamic. While there is a default scale from ppp to fff, there's no need to follow it. As long as it's clear that pp is quieter than p and ff is louder than f, it doesn't really matter what specific velocity values you use for any of it.

In reply to by fsgregs

As explained, you can choose to do whichever you prefer.

The attached example score shows two ways to increase the dynamic:
1. Step changes (as you described)
2. Gradual crescendo (the alternative which @LuuBluum mentioned)

The example score has all dynamics set to Dynamic Range = "System" (not the default "Part"), so that the dynamics affect both Voice and Piano.

Attachment Size
MuseScore_dynamics.mscz 31.41 KB

In reply to by DanielR

Very interesting, guys. In both scores, the typed expression term, "poco cresc." or "cresc. poco a poco" seems to be an active expression. When present, the score responds to the command and does slowly get louder to the next dynamic. That appears to be exactly the same as a crescendo hairpin. Is it? If so, does it matter which one I use?

I also noted that in score 2, you followed the cres. poco a poco with dotted lines, spanning measures 1-4, similar to a hairpin symbol. How do I create that? Do I just type the phrase into the score as an added "expression", and it creates the span what I can drag to the end of any measure I wish? If I stop it before it reaches the next dynamic mark, with the volume of the score stop increasing when the end of the expression area is reached? If so, that would be great.

In reply to by fsgregs

"In both scores, the typed expression term, "poco cresc." or "cresc. poco a poco" seems to be an active expression..."

In the first example (1. Step changes), the "poco cresc." markings are ordinary dynamics from the Dynamics palette where the text and velocity have been changed. In measure 1 the poco cresc. has a fixed velocity of 22, and in measure 3 poco cresc. has a fixed velocity of 40.

In the second example (2. Gradual crescendo), the "cresc. poco a poco." marking is a cresc. line from the Lines palette where the Begin Text has been changed. The cresc. line has a default velocity of 0, so the volume automatically increases from the first dynamic ppp to the last dynamic mp.

"That appears to be exactly the same as a crescendo hairpin. Is it? If so, does it matter which one I use?"

A cresc. or dim. line can be useful where the dynamic change covers two or more systems. For shorter dynamic changes (1-3 measures), a hairpin is fine. You can change the visual appearance between hairpin and dotted line, using the Type dropdown in the Inspector:


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