dynamics, velocity, velocity change

• Aug 21, 2021 - 21:49

Linux/Chromebook 3.6.2
I do not agree with choices for dynamics...Fine. Is there no way to change the velocity for the score and more importantly globally for musescore....always, so I do not need to do this for every movement in every work I enter? My problem is with 'fp'. It IS a dynamic. It is shown in the dynamic palette because it IS a dynamic. Yet, in playback it is performed as forte then piano.(velocity change as I finally figured out) I am writing here because I tried to change things for fp and then save the score. When played again nothing changed beyond the one I made the change with. System made no difference, either. Am I missing something or is there a problem?


Not sure what you mean about "fp" though. It should already playback correctly on any instrument which this dynamic actually makes sense: a loud attack then an immediate reduction in volume while still sustaining the note. A common thing on window instruments, but impossible on, for example, piano. Are you wanting it to do something different from that?

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Thanks for responding. Yes, I agree it works in MS, but I disagree how that is. It is a true dynamic level. Centered between pp and ff. The mid point. As you mention the way it is being used in MS makes it useless for multiple instruments. (I'll add harp and percussion to your thought) It goes back a couple hundred years plus as a true dynamic. For some reason about 50+ years ago we were moving to mf as the 'normal' dynamic and maybe with computer notation things have changed.(I remember guitar as another we left out) As long as I can globally change things it is OK how the program uses fp. Still that choice leaves out many instruments.

Do I assume the change you mentioned means I have to do same thing for every movement or will it work from now on with velocity change at (0). Thanks again for your comments. We'll just disagree on usage.

In reply to by R. L. F.

fp does not mean a dynamic midway between pp and ff. Maybe that would be logical, but it's just not how it is. Check any reference on music notation - "fp" means what I said, always. So if you simply want a medium volume, use mf, not fp - otherwise musicians reading your score will play it very very differently than you intended!

If you know of scores from hundreds of years ago that did use fp to mean a simply mid-point dynamic, it would be interesting to see the link. No doubt, things have changed over the centuries. But I assure you that practice died out long ago - way before anyone alive was born. The modern meaning of "fp" goes back to the 1800's at least. So no one alive would be interpreted "fp" to mean anything other than what I said.

Anyhow, if you add a customized dynamic to your palette, it is then available to add to all movements, all scores.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

So everyone has no dynamic between medium soft and medium loud? Leaves a 'very' large gap in my mind.
When learning things 50-60 years ago, Noone ever said fp was forte decresc piano. Just was not used. All through college training NEVER once was fp described that way, but as I said the normal dynamic level was being pushed towards mf. Must have been something going on in the background. I was using fp as a dynamic in early pieces back then and Noone had any misunderstanding of what I was requesting. I do remember 25 years ago running into this with a carillon piece I wrote. At the time I thought it odd and now I know why. I still find it strange to have something that cannot be used with so many common instruments. I have been including a context chart on the index page for years! Guess for me that will become more important. Thanks to all for the confusing update.
Marc, on your explanation for changing things I thought you said to drag the changed version back to the pallette. I tried this, but I cannot drag anything back to a pallette. Either the drop down on the left or the dynamics in the master pallette. All I do is screw with the layout of the score. As usual I am sure I am missing something obvious. I have not tried to do the custom pallette as suggested by someone else. Thought yours sounded the most promising. Any help will be greatly appreciated.

In reply to by Jm6stringer

Easy enough if you are smart enough to figure these things out(I obviously am not), but when I read the section in the handbook I at least understood Marc's comment. Thanks for your thought.
I have figured out how to change things and I commented about my thoughts and remembrances in comment to DanielR. Thanks to all on this matter...guess we'll agree to disagree!

In reply to by R. L. F.

Interestingly enough, going back 60 years, I don't ever remember fp being a dynamic. What I do remember is that dynamics are performed at the discretion of the conductor and not absolute. Soft for an orchestra is different from soft for a soloist.

In reply to by bobjp

I agree with 'discretion '. Soft for one orchestra is different than for another.
I did go back again and looked at a few study scores of mine. Mozart piano sonatas and Schubert piano quintet. The Mozart is mostly terrace dynamics loud/soft or soft/loud, but some movements in other sonatas were being edited with variety. And yes, it was an editor at the time of publishing that was making choices. The Schubert has both piano and strings. In both works(limited sample) 'fp' was used as a stand alone dynamic. What I thought I remembered for loud followed quickly by soft was in the Mozart. It was notated as 'sf p'. Sforzando attack followed by piano. Obviously, somewhere along the lines someone just decided to drop the (S) and the 'space' for convenience. Now it's fp. The Schubert did have just the fp in the strings. It was on a quarter note, but I hardly think it was being considered loud/soft, as is being talked about today, since it was a tempo of Allegro Vivace. Hardly enough time for the decresendo. Both scores were by well respected publishers, so at that time 'fp' was still considered a dynamic and (sf p) was the loud attack followed by soft. Both scores were from the late 1960's. So things just change for whatever reason!
Thanks for your thought on this, I appreciate your taking the time.

In reply to by R. L. F.

It would be interesting to see the link to the Schubert score with the "fp" on the quarter note in the strings. It is possible he - or his editor - was using this in the modern sense of literally a loud attack followed by an immediate drop on the same note, but as you say, not likely especially at a fast tempo. So it's much more likely he meant it simply as "f" on that note, then immediately "p" for the next note. Comparing the score to professional recordings, and seeing published analyses of the work, could prove interesting. In any case, it's extremely unlikely it was meant to convey a midway between mp and mf. I see absolutely no reason why anyone would assume that - again, this quite simply is not done.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Marc Sorry I should have responded to you about the pallette, earlier. I was thinking about your fp comment and just did not pay attention to the pallette comment. Once I looked at handbook I knew what you were conveying. No problem then, thanks.
I thought your comment about recordings was interesting. I went looking and decided an 'older' recording would be best. I found two. One with Serkin,R and one with Schnabel. Both were very interesting, but both very similar concepts. And honestly confusing at times. The comment ,I made, you mentioned was quarter followed by rests. So I feel it was a dynamic of fp.(Allegro Vivace) Again later fp in the piano for one meas then decres. marking in the following meas. 'That is how both pianists played it'. Again fp in all instruments for 5 meas then a p marking. If it is already soft why a marking for soft.(I will add dynamics were not added everywhere in the piece, so this seems relevant) As expected the performers were using their own interpretations(pp played as mf) so everything was not as a study score was showing, but surprisingly close. At other points it was hard to tell what? But as I said it was a rapid tempo and trying to do loud/soft quickly seems highly unlikely. And with multiple notes in one or more instruments before a marked piano makes me feel closer to fp being considered a mid dynamic.
I know I am not going to change your mind on this.(nor you mine,I accept things have changed) I am just pointing to how I remember it was many years ago. As I mentioned in another response, in a Mozart piano sonata, the editor, used fp and as I had remembered sf p. The later relating to what you are saying. As I mentioned, maybe someone just decided to drop the s and the space and made fp the same as sf p had been. Who knows. Not important. I know you are busy so I do not wish to take up more of your time with this. I do appreciate the info on how it is expected now! So I will be providing more details in my works as to what I am thinking. I still have not talked to my niece as to how she reads it.(she is a choir director) So that will present more perspective. Thanks again for your thoughts!!

In reply to by R. L. F.

And just to confuse myself more than I already am, I seem to recall this about fp: That it is more like an accent than an actual dynamic change. Not just that you would simply play the first note loud and the rest soft. Nor that you would play a hard accent. You would emphasize the first note with some kind of separation/push/accent/volume, then return to the original volume. Does fp say that? Not really, but there are plenty of ambiguous things in interpreting notation.

However you read it, I would think that if fp were a dynamic between soft (p) and loud (f), would it be pf?

Accept, Wiki says "By contrast, pf is an abbreviation for poco forte, literally "a little loud" but (according to Brahms) meaning with the character of forte, but the sound of piano, though rarely used because of possible confusion with pianoforte."

Which says to me that all kinds of things have been/ are now/always will be used to mean different things.

But, again, up to the conductor.

In reply to by R. L. F.

I replied to the person who wrote the comment above. Because we almost shared the same view.

Another equally reasonable (or unreasonable) view:
Shouldn't there theoretically be a mezzo (m) dynamic between mezzo-piano (mp) and mezzo-forte (mf).

pp -> p -> mp -> m -> mf -> f -> ff

If it existed, wouldn't it make more sense to name it mpf (or pf for short)?

In reply to by Ziya Mete Demircan

Sorry again ! Yes I agree completely!! But, apparently, it no longer is the view point. I for one though, will continue as I have been doing for many years. Though now I will add further explanation, besides my context menu pp- p- mp- fp- mf- f- ff. Thanks again for the response! We need to agree to disagree. It's interpretation.

In reply to by Ziya Mete Demircan

When you compose your own music, you can make up any symbols for your music that you want. For 500 years, composers have expanded the musical terminology and technique by inventing their own symbols and techniques when the existing music theory no longer worked. One of the most famous I can think of is Bartok, who invented a whole series of new violin bowing techniques. I think Musescore allows you to edit an existing dynamic and make it any velocity you want.

In reply to by odelphi231

Yes a good reminder. The Bartok snap pizz was a new sound, but probably not totally new as much as a variation on an existing technique. When used in the string quartet, #3 I think, it was certainly new and unusual. I wonder if it was not a style/sound he may have heard while researching folk styles in the countryside. I am just using a marking as I remember it from decades ago, but you are right we composers have been making these determinations of usage for centuries! Thanks for the thoughts.

In reply to by bobjp

The idea of accent then return seems more for sf, sfz (sforzando) which ever you use. And as I have mentioned, in the Mozart piano score I picked up more than once was marked sf p, the hard sound then piano. This is the marking I remember not fp. As for why fp since early dynamics were 'terraced' dynamics, loud then soft or soft then loud what falls comfortably in between these two...mf not really mp...not really, ('a little loud') so why not pf. :) Just a thought! And yes most of this comes down to our artform being one of interpretations!

In reply to by R. L. F.

"So everyone has no dynamic between medium soft and medium loud?"

Absolutely correct. Those are adjacent dynamic markings, there is nothing in between that is used by publishers of the past couple hundred years at least. It's no bigger a gap than the one between mf and f. Musicians are simply taught the sequence pp-p-mp-mf-f-ff and they learn to interpret these in a smoothly graduated way, no large gaps anywhere.

fp is used a lot in marching band music, some in jazz and pop-based styles. It's virtually impossible to do on piano or guitar - you cannot practically affect the volume of a note once played (other than to stop it completely), and it's probably quite awkward on strings. So you only would have encountered it if you played a wind instrument, and even though, you'd have seen it mostly in marching or jazz band, less so in orchestra.

As for the palette, I think you've figured this out now, but to be clear: to customize a palette, hold Ctrl+Shift while dragging an element from your score to the palette. Works with "most" elements, anyhow. You can't add custom frames to the palette, for example, as far as I know.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

"It's virtually impossible to do on piano or guitar"

While this is, of course, correct, it is also true that to some extent both the guitar and piano already play fp by the very way in which these instruments produce sound. In fact, when I was a high school music teacher, I would play a single note on the piano, and would have a student draw the envelope of the sound on the black board - a sudden, rapid attack, followed by a quick decrease in volume, leading into a slower decay of the sound. It sometimes took a couple of tries (and some gentle coaching) for them to catch the idea. I would then use the resulting envelope as a model for them to play fp on their wind instruments. The concept is shaky at best, but it was a good way for them to visualize the concept and apply it to a performance technique.

In reply to by toffle

An interesting approach. I am sure it gives the idea. I feel in this matter decay is not exactly what many are saying for fp. And my point is I never remembered fp as being an attack followed instantly as piano. As I have said that marking as I remembered was sf p. I have just wondered if somewhere over the years someone dropped the s and the space and used fp instead. No way to know. For me fp was a true dynamic which 'I' always considered to fill in between mp medium soft and mf medium loud. Thanks for the thought!

In reply to by R. L. F.

Hi, RLF.

You say:
"So everyone has no dynamic between medium soft and medium loud? Leaves a 'very' large gap in my mind."

I have no idea what dynamic levels "medium soft" and "medium loud" are. But you earlier referred to "fp" as "being centered between pp and ff". So perhaps those are the dynamic levels you mean by "medium soft" and "medium loud"

There are several dynamic levels between pp and ff: p, mp, mf, f.

I must be missing something here.

In any case, the mark fp is, I believe, defined as indicating playing loudly (forte) followed by softly (piano).

Now whether that works properly in MuseScore is another matter altogether.


In reply to by Doug Kerr

Doug. Thanks for the thought. Guess I was not totally clear. Very soft. pp very loud ff is filled in by p mp (fp) mf f... in my mind! And yes I agree with your statement ' a large gap between medium soft mp and medium loud mf'. This where fp works for me. This is what I remember from decades ago. As I have mentioned in some of the comments I pulled out an old study score of a Schubert piano quintet. The editor of the time, probably in mid/early 60's, was using fp as a dynamic. How I remembered that marking to have been used in those days. It was mentioned and I accept the thoughts have changed. Now it is what I remember as sf p. Sforzando then followed by piano.(used in an old Mozart piano sonatas study score I have) Some older recordings, Schubert, I reviewed played the fp more as that middle point dynamic. But... I was just looking at my study score and not a performing score the players would have been using. Anyway I consider it a dynamic filling in that 'large gap' and will continue to do so with some explanations in my scores. So as I have said we agree to disagree! That's music! Thanks again for your thoughts.

In reply to by R. L. F.

Here's a few random thoughts.

Music is full of things that are open to wide interpretation. How fast is allegro? We have a range that we use, but what did an early classical composer mean by allegro? I feel dynamic markings are in the same boat. Just how soft is p. How loud is ff? When you listen to a recording, are dynamics always obeyed? Much less tempos?

Seems to me that when we have a dynamic that has two components, like mp, that the first is a modifier for the second. Medium soft. ff=very loud (roughly). If fp were a dynamic, how would you write it out? It literally says loud soft. But when is something loud then soft. At the same time? One after the other? We can play something soft or loud. Can we do that at the same time?

Has anyone seen fp as a dynamic at the beginning of a piece?

Don't forget that Mozart's piano was an instrument in transition. Not fully the powerful instrument his music is played on today. Were playing techniques and interpretation different back then? Surely they were. When we listen to a recording, do we know that they are playing from the same edition score that we are using to follow them? The problem with a recording is that it is one performance frozen in time. Did that performer play that piece the same way 20 years ago? Will they play it the same way tomorrow?

Sibelius does not treat fp as a dynamic. It treats it as a playing technique. A note is louder, then right away becomes softer. I'm not saying Sibelius is definitive. It's just they way it does it.

In reply to by bobjp

"Has anyone seen fp as a dynamic at the beginning of a piece?" You could see that marking for yourself if you look at the first note of Beethoven piano sonata no 8 op 13 (pathetique) as indicated in my earlier post. Whether that fp should be called a "dynamic" or an "articulation" or a "guide to expression" or something else is a moot point. But in my opinion, however it might be categorised it means play loud and then soft.

In reply to by SteveBlower

I was not looking for such, but I pulled out another study score. Happened to be Schubert again, piano works. First impromptu D935. The opening dynamic was fp followed right next by decres. marking for two meas . I listened to 5 or 6 performances of the opening. Only one could be called close to forte and all did the decresc over the two meas following. Most were at a mid level dynamic, what I choose to call fp. None of the performers play a loud note followed immediately by piano. This to me is a perfect example of how I remember fp to be used.
I did try to find a copy (autograph) of Beethoven op 13 to see what the master did. I could not find that sonata, the best I did was an early performing score. It was f for the chord and then marked p for the dotted following. (not definitive) I was able to find a sonata that Beethoven himself used fp in his scratches. Op 28 'Pastoral', early in the first movement he uses fp over multiple meas. I listened to small sample of performances, one older one more recent. Both performers played the same mid level fp dynamic through all these meas. Nothing definitive. I have only been looking for examples of how I remember fp being used. I am Not trying to change anyone's experience of using this marking. I just feel there are enough questionable examples to say things have changed from the years ago when I was beginning! Thanks for your comments.

In reply to by bobjp

I would agree in general with what you are saying. It is our artform. One of interpretations and the scores as you imply are also frozen in time. As for fp at beginning of a work check my response to Steve and 'yes' we do things(some) differently over the years. Thanks for the thoughts.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Marc, while I agree with you that only wind instruments can do a fp on the same note and I will defer to your expertise that "fp" means on the same note; however, when I see "fp" on a piano piece I am assuming the publisher means "f" on the note with the dynamic symbol, "p" on the notes after that note. Otherwise, why would the publisher put "fp" on a piano piece since they know you can't do a "fp" on the same note on a piano. Anyway, that is how I play it.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

My only real problem with that thought, from what I was seeing and also hearing, at times there were a few meas after the fp.... then a p marking. Why the p marking if it is already piano. Simply not needed unless that is how it was expected to be performed. And as I said that was how the older performers were playing . I just pulled out a few scores and found multiple examples and after your suggestion I listened to performers playing it.... that way. Since I just had a study score and not the players scores I can only judge what I saw and what I heard. No not definitive!

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Sorry Marc...... old school here. No link. It is a simple ink on paper study score. One of many I have acquired over the years. Also, not worth the time and effort for me to figure out making copies to send. I am sure there is some place online you might find an older published score. It would be interesting to know how another editor would have done things. I realize I did not say what the Schubert was thinking that piano quintet was obvious, 'Trout'. So, if you really want to pursue this you can...I accept that things may have changed. I will note in my scores, further, how I am expecting things. As always thanks for your help...some interesting comments in this thread. Nice to talk music with others, again, even if I am on the defending side!! (:

In reply to by R. L. F.

Well, you could always snap a picture with your phone or other device then post it. Or just tell us the name of the score and the measure number, and we could probably find it on IMSLP or elsewhere.

As it is, I still see no evidence whatsoever that anything has changed. As far as I can see, "fp" continues to mean what it always has - loud followed by soft. It's unusual to apply this to piano since it's incapable of doing this on a single note. But that hasn't changed either - it was unusual 200 years ago and remains unusual today. No doubt there exist examples from every century, and they would likely be interpreted the same way: loud, then soft.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Here's a "how to do it" video that gives an example of fp used by Beethoven at the start of his piano sonata No. 8 op. 13 (pathetique). https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&cad=rja&…

Most times I've heard this played the initial chord is struck f and allowed to decay naturally and the following dotted rhythmic figure is played p. Like here for example https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrcOcKYQX3c. I take it to be an indication of how the music should "feel" not an instruction to use some sort of secret button on the piano to get that first chord to decay faster.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

No phone pictures here. If you really wish to follow this further the score is Kalmus #791. 1st move
(hope the meas numbers are correct, they are not marked in study scores at the time and for some reason harder to read than I remember....they should be within one)

meas 57 piano fp with decres marking in next meas. Both old recordings played it this way...the newer group did decres over both meas. None did any attack that could be considered forte

meas 71 says fp + decres marking leading to p in the next meas. Why, if it is immediate for piano (did the same in recap) this is the most telling to me

12 meas before repeat. fp for stgs only quarter note (Allegro Vivace) piano did measured trills for this meas then pp in next. all performers played one meas same dynamic then dropped to pp. (same in recap)

These are obviously editors choice, but for me it brings into question the usage of fp at that time (60s) in the editors mind and the performers of the time. Marc I am not trying to change your mind, just point out differences from when I was learning. Continue if you wish, but for me I have other musical matters...... I have to drop more fp's in some music. Do as you wish I am done for now. Thanks again for the help with the pallette changes that started all this.

In reply to by R. L. F.

A little digging shows me this is the Schubert A major piano quintet (string quartet + piano). Looking at the original edition on IMSLP (edited by Carl Czerny), I see measure 57 has the fp indeed, followed by decrescendo, leading to pp. That's completely consistent with the standard interpretation. Measure 71 shows no dynamic marking, only a diminuendo. But a later edition adds "sf" there, while the strings have "fp". That makes sense of course. I see there are numerous places where that same distinction is made. My best guess is that if you are seeing fp here on the piano part, the copyist for Kalmus simply made a typo.

Anyhow, fp then diminuendo then p makes perfect sense: fp brings dynamic down to p, the diminuendo brings it down below p, the p then restore the dynamic to p. None of this requires inventing the completely non-existent concept of a dynamic marking between mp and mf.

So again, I can absolutely assure beyond any possibility of doubt that what I am saying is absolutely true. It was never true during your lifetime that "fp" meant something other than what it means today or what it means 200 years ago. It means what it has meant for centuries: loud and then soft. You will not find a single music book printed within the last 200 years that will tell you fp means anything than what I have been saying. This is not a point on which there is even the slightest debate. Every single reference is 100% clear and in agreement on this. There are many things in music where different editors have different opinions and one needs to learn to accept there are different ways of doing things. This is not one of those situations. It is absolutely unequivocably universal.

In short, it is not something that changed since the 1960's. It's just something you are either remembering incorrectly or perhaps were taught incorrectly. There's no shame in either. We all sometimes remember things wrong, and certainly we've also all occasionally been taught incorrectly.

So I truly hope the fp's you drop in your music are used correctly - to mean loud then soft, not some non-existent middle-dynamic between mp and mf. You're doing yourself and and readers of your music a disservice otherwise.

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