sforzato vs. sforzando vs. forzato

• Feb 15, 2023 - 15:45

I can't find a serious definition or differentiation of the three, only vague statements that all three are a sudden, heavy increase of dynamics temporarily only for the note "sf" resp. "sfz" resp. "fz" is attached to.
What I experience in MuseScore 4 is that "sf" and "sfz" both temporarily change the dynamics of the note, they are attached to, approximately to forte, i.e. if the previous dynamics is less than forte, then it is increased (with a heavy increase to ppp and a slight increase to mf); if the previous dynamics is forte, then nothing happens; and if the previous dynamics is greater than forte, it is even decreased. The behaviour of "fz" is even more weird; it appears to just reset the dynamics to default (something between mp and mf).
What I would expect is that all three basically temporarily increase the dynamics by a factor, e.g. 120%, so that also f, ff, and fff get louder.
So my questions are:
1) what are the differences in the definition of sf, sfz, and fz?
2) why is MuseScore 4 behaving differently? Is this a bug?


When searching the Internet for definitions of such music terms, it seems a roll-of-the-dice how fully the terms are defined... I've sometimes gone to multiple I'net sites simply to get the notion of what a term means.

Before anybody here can speak with confidence about bug or not, it would help for you to attach a score you find the described behaviors with.

In reply to by Are Jayem

An example score is attached as example.pdf. Please find fz annotations in measures 37, 39, 40, 42, 48, 50, 57, and 58. Please refer to this recording (I can't upload mp3 here, so please you this iCloud share) https://www.icloud.com/iclouddrive/0a18cbS9vTxrdpGRXm3oZ7qhQ#example for how the Vienna philharmonic is playing this (sudden increases in dynamics, i.e. like the definition found on the web). I engraved this in MuseScore 4 as example.mscz; for playback I used the Muse 4 Sounds where available (all except for clarinets in C and trumpets in F); you can hear that the fz has no effect. When lowering the default dynamics to p and exchanging fz by sf (please see example2.mscz), it sounds as expected (sudden increase in dynamics). Finally I attach a simple example (simple.mscz), in which you can hear the odd behaviour described in my first message.

Attachment Size
example.pdf 1.44 MB
example.mscz 26.39 KB
example2.mscz 26.15 KB
simple.mscz 18.2 KB

In reply to by Are Jayem

I've meanwhile queried definitive books used in music education and found out that the author Erich Wolf (who used to work at the Music University Detmold) defines all three of them to be the same, namely to especially emphasize the note or chord marked with it (see attached screenshot from the book).

Attachment Size
IMG_1012.jpeg 1.41 MB

sforzato is a strong emphasis applied to a single note. Sforzando is a strong emphasis applied to a note group. Forzato just means stronger (louder) played.

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