This chapter argues that dynamic markings cannot always be understood purely quantitatively (i.e., loud or soft), and that their meanings are not absolute. They may indicate states of emotion, tension/relaxation, etc. Many examples from piano, orchestral, and string quartet repertoire demonstrate a whole range of possibilities. Specific indications and their varied usage in different historic periods are shown, as is the importance of nuances within any dynamic range. The chapter coins some descriptive terms such as “Rahmenanschlag” and shows instances of the pedal's essential role.
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