“IKEA stores now populate the suburbs of America. They spring up wherever there is enough space to hold their gargantuan facilities. Why are they so popular? Price is one factor, but also there’s something called the IKEA Effect: You value something that you build more than something you buy ready-made.”—
“Mother,” I slowly repeated in Korean. “I am not a boy. I am a girl. I am transgender.” My face reddened, and tears blurred my vision. I braced myself for her rejection and the end to a relationship that had only begun.
Silence again filled the room. I searched my mother’s eyes for any signs of shock, disgust or sadness. But a serene expression lined her face as she sat with ease on the couch. I started to worry that my words had been lost in translation. Then my mother began to speak.
“Mommy knew,” she said calmly through my friend, who looked just as dumbfounded as I was by her response. “I was waiting for you to tell me.”
“Birth dream,” my mother replied. In Korea some pregnant women still believe that dreams offer a hint about the gender of their unborn child. “I had dreams for each of your siblings, but I had no dream for you. Your gender was always a mystery to me.”
I wanted to reply but didn’t know where to begin. My mother instead continued to speak for both of us. “Hyun-gi,” she said, stroking my head. “You are beautiful and precious. I thought I gave birth to a son, but it is OK. I have a daughter instead.”
Few pieces contain dynamic designations with more than three f’s or p’s. In Holst’s The Planets, ffff occurs twice in Mars and once in Uranus often punctuated by organ and fff occurs several times throughout the work. It also appears in Heitor Villa-Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras No. 4 (Prelude). The Norman Dello Joio Suite for Piano ends with a crescendo to a ffff, and Tchaikovsky indicated a bassoon solo pppppp in his Pathétique Symphony and ffff in passages of his 1812 Overture and the 2nd movement of his Fifth Symphony. Igor Stravinsky used ffff at the end of the finale of the Firebird Suite. ffff is also found in a prelude by Rachmaninoff, op.3-2. Shostakovich even went as loud as fffff in his fourth symphony. Gustav Mahler, in the third movement of his Seventh Symphony, gives the celli and basses a marking of fffff, along with a footnote directing ‘pluck so hard that the strings hit the wood.’
On another extreme, Carl Nielsen, in the second movement of his Symphony No. 5, marked a passage for woodwinds a diminuendo to ppppp. Another more extreme dynamic is in György Ligeti’s Études No. 13 (Devil’s Staircase), which has at one point a ffffff and progresses to a ffffffff. In Ligeti’s Études No. 9, he uses pppppppp. In the baritone passage Era la notte from his opera Otello, Verdi uses pppp. Steane (1971) and others suggest that such markings are in reality a strong reminder to less than subtle singers to at least sing softly rather than an instruction to the singer actually to attempt a pppp. Usually, the extra f’s or ‘ps written reinforce either ff or pp, and are usually only for dramatic effect.
In music for marching band, passages louder than fff are sometimes colloquially referred to by descriptive terms such as “blastissimo”