All the scores I studied as a piano student used Italian terms for performance instruction, or their abbreviations: "rit." and "accel." etc.

I'm wondering - for my own compositions - whether I should uphold that tradition, or use English equivalents. It seems odd to write "molto vivace" in a score, when I mean "very lively". I know just enough phrasebook Italian to say "piu rubato", but I'd slip into English to write something like "with emphasis on the melody".

In scores I've produced already, I have used Italian instructions, like "ritardando". I'm thinking of editing them to use the word "slower" instead, and to use all-English annotations from now on.

Opinions?

You need to be a member of Composers' Forum to add comments!

Join Composers' Forum

Email me when people reply –

Replies

  • I have usel Swedish in some settings of Swedish poetry and English in settings of English poetry, but generally tend to use Italian in most of my music. Not least after having had songs in Swedish performed in Canada and songs in English performed in Austria. You never know when or where you're music will be performed and by whom.
    Therefore I generally go for Italian terms.
    Translating is not always making things clearer.
    To suddenly throw in an English translation of forte for instance can have very different effects I think depending on if you go for louder or for with force as your English substitute. Not to mention what the effect could be if I use other possible and equally valid translations such as heavy or vigorously where the last two can imply opposite approaches to the interpretation of t the tempo of the piece as well as the dynamic. Sure you could argue that this is in fact a reason to use English terms, but if you were given the instruction in a language that you do not understand (in Sweden we do not learn musical terminology in English anymore than English speakers learn them in Swedish) then there is no way of really sensing the clarification that was intended. Rather the confusion might increase since you sense that something is in fact ment to be clarified but you stand clueless a to what that might be.
    Therefore I think Italian is the way to go, now more than ever since it is the only language that you can be sure is being taught everywhere when it comes to musical terminology.
  • ''All the scores I studied as a piano student used Italian terms for performance instruction, or their abbreviations: "rit." and "accel." etc.

    I'm wondering - for my own compositions - whether I should uphold that tradition, or use English equivalents. It seems odd to write "molto vivace" in a score, when I mean "very lively". I know just enough phrasebook Italian to say "piu rubato", but I'd slip into English to write something like "with emphasis on the melody".

    In scores I've produced already, I have used Italian instructions, like "ritardando". I'm thinking of editing them to use the word "slower" instead, and to use all-English annotations from now on.

    Opinions?''

    Ma che cazzo dire tuto questo?

    Italiano serve ancora musica bene!

  • In my opinion, what matters in a score is to convey what you absolutely need to be performed in an accurate and clear manner. As a performer, if something is not written or at least implied, I'll do as I see fit-that may or may not be acceptable by you as a composer. If you feel you can express those instructions better in english then please go for it. Following the norm probably is the most convenient way, but never forget, we, as a collective of composers and musicians, make the norm of each era, so when what we have can't serve our purpose, we should simply use something else.

This reply was deleted.