List of Grade 5 Music Theory Terminology

List of Grade 5 Music Theory Terminology

As a classical instrumentalist, you’re likely to have encountered a lot of terminology so far through the pieces you have played.

For grade 5, the extent of the terminology you’re expected to know increases. You are also required to know all the terminology from the previous grades. Check out the complete list of music theory grade 1-4 terminology.

Below is a list of all the new words you are expected to understand when you sit your exam. For ease of understanding, they are grouped in the following areas.

  • Dynamics: words that relate to volume
  • Tempo: anything concerning speed of the pulse
  • Mood & Expression
  • Performance Technique & Articulation
  • Instruction: practical instructions on what to do, e.g. ‘go straight on…’
  • Misc: Other words that don’t fit into the categories above

Although they are grouped in these headings, bear in mind that often a word can imply a change in more than one area. For example;

Smorzando = dying away in tone and speed. (this concerns dynamics and tempo)
Lebhaft = lively. (could mean lively in tempo, dynamics and articulation)
Allargando = broadening (could mean tempo and dynamics)

  • Italian terms are in black text
  • German words are denoted in blue writing.

Dynamics

  • Estino = as soft as possible, lifeless
  • Smorzando = dying away in tone and speed

Tempo

  • Doppio movimento = twice as fast
  • Incalzando = getting quicker
  • Lunga = long
  • Lunga pausa = long pause
  • Misura = measure (a bar)
  • Alla misura = in strict time
  • Senza misura = in free time
  • Smorzando = dying away in tone and speed
  • Tosto = swift and rapid
  • Volante = flying, fast
  • Bewegt = with movement, agitated
  • Langsam = slow
  • Lebhaft = lively
  • Mässig = at a moderate speed
  • Schnell = fast

Mood & Expression

  • Dolente = sad, mournful
  • Dolore = grief
  • Doloroso = sorrowful
  • Lacrimoso = sad
  • Lusingando = coaxing, in a sweet style
  • Piacevole = pleasant
  • Piangevole = plaintive, lamenting
  • Rinforzando, rf, rfz = reinforcing
  • Teneramente, tenerezza = tenderly, tenderness
  • Ausdruck = expression
  • Breit = broad and expansive
  • Einfach = simple
  • Fröhlich = cheerful, joyful
  • Ruhig = peaceful
  • Süss = sweet
  • Traurig = sad
  • Zart = tender, delicate

Performance technique

  • Pizzicato, pizz. = direction for string players to pluck the string rather than bow it
  • Arco = use the bow again (string players)
  • Con sordini, con sord. = use the mute (string players)
  • Sul G = only play on the G string (string players)
  • Sul ponticello = play near the bridge (string players)
  • Una corda = press the left pedal on the piano which makes the piano only play ‘one string’
  • Tre corda = release the left pedal (piano)
  • Mano sinistra, m.s. = left hand
  • Mano destra, m.d. = right hand

Instruction

  • Attacca = go straight on to the next section of music
  • Loco = at the normal pitch after having used an 8va direction
  • Segue = go straight on
  • Wieder = again

Misc

  • Ossia = alternate, or
  • Pochettino, poch = a little
  • Aber = but
  • Ein = a, one
  • Etwas = somewhat, rather
  • Immer = always
  • Mit = with
  • Nicht = not
  • Ohne = without
  • Sehr = very
  • Und = and
  • Voll = full
  • Wenig = little
  • Zu = to, too