If you have some orchestra music experience you’ve obviously come across the “FFFF” inscription and may wonder what it actually means.
In orchestra music, there exist what are called dynamics in relation to a piece of music. They are basically the difference between notes or phrases.
So then, what does FFFF mean in music?
The FFFF dynamic marking is a written instruction telling the performer to perform or play a specific event AS LOUD AS POSSIBLE. The abbreviation FFFF means fortississimo which means to play louder than fortissimo which is abbreviated as FFF.
The extra F in FFFF is to give emphasis to show that the dynamics are to be over emphasized or extreme.
Extreme dynamic markings are used to imply an extreme range of loudness or imply a very subtle distinction between very small differences of loudness within a normal range.
Dynamics in music usually fall on the volume and represent how loud an or quiet an event has to be.
Importance of Dynamics in music
Dynamics play a very vital role in music and are extremely important because without them compositions would sound boring with little nuance.
Musicians utilize dynamics to create variety, drama, intensity throughout a song and are able to make the entire musical journey a lot more fascinating and enjoyable for the listener.
Dynamics are also important because they act as the tool with which emotion and mood can be intently expressed to create a more natural connection with the audience or listener.
Music is emotion-based and without emotion it is very hard to relate to it.
This would make music unappealing and people would not be able to appreciate it well.
Calling upon and utilizing dynamics by incorporating them into music you can create connection and be able to emphasize the emotion you intend to portray.
The Use of Dynamics
Dynamics are basically used in all types of music whether in complex orchestral compositions or your favourite RnB record.
The use of dynamics is to basically fuel the theme behind the intentions of the performer or the composer which simply means controlling the narrative to portray various emotions.
For example, most RNB songs these days created with virtual instruments, will have a lot of digital techniques employed to showcase a wide variety of emotion.
A song can have a calm introduction which could easily build up and fall into a climaxing chorus which involve varying dynamics that give the chorus a hook effect that can easily pull the listener in. Some other genres like EDM will basically use dynamics to create rage and high energy emotions.
Varying dynamics are also employed to make some parts of music quieter in order to ignite the necessary emotion to create feelings like sadness.
The basic take away here is that dynamics can used to control the overall emotion of a song.
The Types of Dynamics
There are basically different types of dynamics that range from loudness to softness.
The loud dynamics basically consist of forte, mezzo forte, and fortissimo. The more soft dynamics are the piano, mezzo piano, and pianissimo. These dynamics are represented through different symbols which tell the player or performer of the music to control their intensity to the specified dynamic.
Forte basically signals that the player or performer is to play the event/section or instrument loud.
The symbol that is utilized by this dynamic is simply “f”.
Mezzo which is denoted by a small letter “m”, will usually be placed with another dynamic because it means average.
Therefore it can be placed with loudness to signal moderate loudness and it can also be placed with softness to signal moderate softness.
Fortissimo generally denoted by “ff” signals the performer to perform or play an event very loud. There exists an extreme of the fortissimo dynamic which is called fortississimo denoted by “ffff” which signals that an event is to be played or performed very very loud.
Piano signifies that an event has to be played or performed quietly. It is denoted by the letter “p”.
Mezzo piano “mp”, shows that an event has to be moderately quiet.
Pianissimo denoted by “pp” indicates to the performer or player that the event has to be played very quiet. The extreme of pianissimo denoted by “ppp” means to okay or perform an event very very quietly.
Dynamics can be gradually changed and this is often shown in written music, so lets look at the various kinds of changes.
Crescendo is abbreviated as “cresc.” and is meant to show increasing or growing volume change in the dynamics.
Decrescendo is abbreviated as “decresc.” and means decreasing which signifies a decreasing change in dynamics.
Diminuendo is abbreviated “dim” and means a diminishing change in dynamics.