Decrescendo or diminuendo? - Which term to use

All topics musical, not specifically piano-related

Postby 106-1106358643 » Wed Nov 02, 2005 6:52 am

What is the proper place for Decrescendo and diminuendo? Do they mean different things or are they interchangeable?
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Postby 108-1121887355 » Tue Nov 22, 2005 8:55 pm

They mean the same to me. :)
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Postby Stretto » Tue Nov 22, 2005 10:43 pm

That's a good question I never thought about! You must be very astute.

I looked it up in "The New Harvard Dictionary of Music" Edited by Don Randel. A teacher once recommended that I get a copy. Under Diminuendo it says, "Becoming softer, decrescendo". Under Decrescendo it says, "Becoming softer, (see also Diminuendo . . . ). Both are Italian.

I think I've always interpreted diminuendo as more of a gradual "fading out" while Decrescendo as just gradual loud to soft in the course of the symbol, but not sure if this is an accurate interpretation.

Does the word Diminuendo appear more so toward the end of a piece or the end of a musical phrase, while decrescendo is found more in the middle of the music not necessarily at the end of phrases or pieces . . . just an uneducated speculation on my part. Anyone else have an opinion on this?
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Postby Dr. Bill Leland » Sat Nov 26, 2005 9:20 am

Don't try too hard to split hairs on these terms. Composers tend to have their own preferences (which often skip around anyway!), and editors get into the act as well, sometimes altering or adding things to clarify.

For "getting softer" you could also run into 'perdendosi' ("dying away"--see Debussy's "Clair de Lune"), 'calando', 'morendo', even the German 'beruhigen' ("becoming quieter"). Then there's the little closing hairpin we all know, too. After a certain point, you have to make the effect in accordance with the style of the music.

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Technique is 90 per cent from the neck up.
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