8 Notes on the Sixth String & Dynamics

INTRODUCTION

In this unit you will learn two fretted notes on the sixth string and dynamics.

NOTATIONS

Notes

The Note ‘F’

‘F’ is on the third leger line below the staff. To play ‘F’, fret the first fret on the sixth string.

The Note ‘G’

‘G’ is underneath the second leger line below the staff. To play ‘G’, fret the third fret on the sixth string.

Dynamics

The word dynamic refers to variations in loudness. Since music notation developed over a vast period of time and place (and continues to develop) there are a few ways to notate dynamic.

From Pianississimo to Fortississimo

The dynamics in this section relate to the Italian words piano (soft), forte (strong) and mezzo (half). The list below includes the symbol, its Italian name and its musical direction. It is organized from the softest to the loudest dynamic.

Symbol Italian name Musical direction
ppp pianississimo extremely soft
pp pianissimo very soft
p piano soft
mp mezzopiano moderately soft
mf mezzoforte moderately loud
f forte loud
ff fortissimo  very loud
fff
fortississimo extremely loud
 

Gradual Dynamic Changes

Crescendo

The crescendo, directs you to grow louder. The word means “increasing” in Italian.

Decrescendo

The decrescendo directs you to grow softer. The word means “decreasing” in Italian.

Diminuendo

The diminuendo directs you to grow softer. The word means “diminishing” in Italian.

Hairpin Crescendo

Hairpins direct you to either grow louder or softer over time. They are usually placed under the staff and relate to the notation directly above.

A hairpin crescendo that widens from left to right directs you to grow louder.

Hairpin Drescendo

A hairpin that narrows from left to right directs you to grow softer.

 

Sudden Dynamic Change

Sforzando

The sforzando involves a sudden and loud accent. It is short for subito forzando, which means “suddenly, with force” in Italian.

Dynamic Modifiers

Molto

The molto is a modifier that is usually paired with another dynamic (as in the example above). The word means “much” in Italian. It directs you to enact a more dramatic change of dynamic.

Poco

The poco is a modifier that is usually paired with another dynamic (as in the example above). The word means “little” in Italian. It directs you to enact a more subtle change of dynamic.

Subito

The subito is a modifier that is usually paired with another dynamic (as in the example above). The word means “suddenly” in Italian. It directs you to instantly change dynamic.

Let’s Play

Sight-Reading Tip

Dynamic changes force us to listen to the acoustic space, other players and our own playing. Attentive listening can create relaxation and exhilaration at the same time. Become acquainted with the diverse effects of careful listening as you sight-read.

Checklist for Sight-Reading

  • Count the beats out loud (including the &).
  • Keep going (even if you make a mistake).
  • Maintain your best playing posture.
  • Look at the score, not your hands.
  • Play with the feel of the meter.
  • Play patterns instead of individual notes (AKA chunk).
  • Cultivate a calm demeanor.
  • Have fun!

Let’s Play Rhythms

Attitude Tip

The most important thing I look for in a musician is whether he knows how to listen. –Duke Ellington

Exercise 8.1: Score

Exercise 8.1: Audio


Exercise 8.2: Score

Exercise 8.2: Audio

Exercise 8.3: Score

Exercise 8.3: Audio

Let’s Play Patterns

Attitude Tip

Time passes. Listen. Time passes. Come closer now.[1] –Dylan Thomas from Under Milk Wood

Exercise 8.4: Score

Exercise 8.4: Audio

Let’s Play Duets

Attitude Tip

In music, silence is more important than sound. –Miles Davis

Exercise 8.5: Score

Exercise 8.5: Audio

Exercise 8.6: Score

Exercise 8.6: Audio

 

Congratulations!

You have completed this unit! If you kept up with the beat and accurately played approximately 70% of the pitches and rhythms, you are ready for the next unit. Feel free to repeat the exercises. However, do not play them so often that you memorize them. Once you memorize the notation, you are no longer developing the skill of sight-reading.

 


  1. Dylan Thomas, Under Milk Wood (New York: New Directions, 1954), 3. Congratulations!You have completed this unit! If you kept up with the beat and accurately played 60-70% of the pitches and rhythms, you are ready for the next unit. Feel free to repeat the exercises. However, do not play them so often that you memorize them. Once you memorize the notation, you are no longer developing the skill of sight-reading.

License

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Notes on the Sixth String & Dynamics by Chelsea Green is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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