Friday, 20 June 2008

Pinolona's guide to musical terms

One good thing about living in a house and not an apartment is that you can make as much noise as you like. Also, the social scene is a little calmer here than in Krakow, which means copious choral caterwauling and moody moments over the Moonlight Sonata at midnight.

I'm getting a bit rusty on my old musical terms though. So here's a quick guide.*

I'll count you in. First one to the double bar line wins: and one, and two, and three and four...

piano**: when you don't want to disturb the neighbours too much
forte: when the neighbours are on holiday
mezzo-forte you can't remember whether the neighbours are back yet
crescendo: testing the neighbours' patience
double forte! To hell with the neighbours!!
pianissimo: the neighbours are at the door...

tremolo: the feeling you get when you haven't practised
sforzando: when your heart's not really in it
Maestro: a retro car
Allegro: like eBay, somewhere you mustn't log on to when drunk

strolling to the pub speed
: when you're late for the pub
Ritenuto: when your boss keeps you from going to the pub after work

Con anima: the soul of a crook
Bel canto: beautiful song. Unless you're looking at the bass section, in which case it's 'can belto'

backache. Or a posh name for a turnip.
altissimo: a very tall Alto
allargando: middle-age spread
alzate sordini: you can take the ear muffs off now
totally pizzicato: the second violins, after a good session at The Rifleman.
coloratura: a soprano with hiccups

bellicoso: trying to play louder than the neighbours
capriccioso: spicy pizza
coda: generally served with chipsa
comodo: Grandma has one in the spare bedroom
con moto: coming to rehearsals on a scooter

decrescendo: just before you get to the bit you haven't practised (see also rallentando and diminuendo)
divisi: when you fall out with your desk-mate
dolce: to be eaten after the concert

encore: Never heard this one!

fugue: running away before you get to the bit you haven't practised.
glissando: walking back to the piano after the interval drinks
hemiola: painful affliction requiring minor surgery

improvisando: Practice is Cheating.

incalzando: rehearsal starts before you've put your socks on.
lacrimoso: when they find out you haven't been practising.
largo: cheaper than vino
comes before Easto

'ma non troppo!'
: don't push your luck
mezzo soprano: but don't let her stature fool you.
ostinato: stubborn refusal to practice

scherzo: you want me to play that?!

a ladies underwear store
sostenuto: got a secret stash of beer to keep you going til the interval
tenor: not even enough for a round these days
tutti: ice-cream flavour. Also comes in frutti
unison: when everyone agrees on where to get the interval drinks.
vibrato: wobbly effect famously solved by Triumph.

*Which owes a lot to those printed tea towels they sell at Britten's in Tunbridge Wells.
** "It's not a pi-arh-no you posh-talking weirdo, it's a bleedin' Clahr-in-ahrt!" (a loud clarinettist).


Anonymous said...

Dear Pinolona, :-))
Although my favorite tempo is adagio (but non troppo ) I hope Your career will go on prestissimo:-)Regarding Your ealier question:Starboard means "prawa,-y " and port side is "lewa,-y" (sometimes confusing for translators).But this Triumph..,hmm...I must try it on the engine of my car...wobbling like a hell.
( deep bow )

Darth Sida said...

Dear Doctah!

So like there's this conman, mistah Brahms, keep away from him, ma mom says. Especially from things that ain't for minors, she says. But once me and ma gal, when ma mom's away do shoppin', sumthin' jist git into us, me an ma gal, an' we git that major thing goin', Dee, an' it took us three movements, an' I guess the movement numbah 3 we had it all con FUOCKO. (Gotta wash me mouth out now!) Ma mum ain't suspeck nuthin' yet but there may be problems sins ma gal she want mo an' mo. What shood I do, Doctah?

pinolona said...


I'm still here! But I'm in France without much internet access. Don't stop reading, I'll be back, I promise!