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”
Great section from Wikipedia on dynamics! (via schubertandstarbucks)
Reblogged from schubertandstarbucks
February 1st, 2014 at 1:59 am