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 Re: Poco Forte marking in Brahms
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2014-07-23 20:44

TJTG wrote:

> Timothy McGovern and Dennis Michel both taught me that it
> indicates "more loud", meaning play with more volume than your
> current dynamic. So a marking of 'poco forte' in a part
> initially marked 'pianissimo' would indicated to now play
> 'piano' rather than 'forte'. Many people see it and immediate
> think "mezzo forte", that is incorrect.

First of all, poco means little, not more. Poco forte implies a comparison to an unmodified forte. The Italian word for more is piu. It implies a comparison to something previous - piu forte is louder (stronger) than before (whatever went before). The opposite, of course, is meno.

Secondly, when Brahms uses poco f at the very beginning of the F minor sonata, for example, there is nothing to play louder than - it's the beginning. Moreover, in the sonata, the next explicit dynamic is f after a short crescendo. So, clearly, in this case the poco f is less than forte or the big piano chords beginning in bar 12 would lose their drama.

But if Brahms had wanted the opening to be explicitly quiet, he would certainly have marked it - piano or even pianissimo, or at least mezzo-piano. He wanted something reasonably full-voiced, sung freely, but not as loud as the forte to come. That in itself should be enough to get an idea of how to understand poco f over these ten or eleven bars.

Other contexts, of course, may call for different results. The terms forte and piano themselves are not fixed levels that can be measured and described on a decibel scale. Forte in a Tchaikovsky symphony where both ff and then fff follow may have a different meaning from its meaning in other, less dramatic contexts where, perhaps, forte is the loudest dynamic written in the piece. Once you know the meaning of the words themselves (in this case "a little loud (strong)," you next need to look at the musical surroundings to know what makes sense.

Karl



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 Topics Author  Date
 Poco Forte marking in Brahms  new
Arnoldstang 2014-07-23 17:57 
 Re: Poco Forte marking in Brahms  new
TJTG 2014-07-23 18:27 
 Re: Poco Forte marking in Brahms  new
kdk 2014-07-23 20:44 
 Re: Poco Forte marking in Brahms  new
TJTG 2014-07-23 20:57 
 Re: Poco Forte marking in Brahms  new
Arnoldstang 2014-07-24 01:52 
 Re: Poco Forte marking in Brahms  new
kdk 2014-07-24 07:12 
 Re: Poco Forte marking in Brahms  new
vin 2014-07-24 07:41 
 Re: Poco Forte marking in Brahms  new
Brother Joe 2014-07-24 09:18 
 Re: Poco Forte marking in Brahms  new
Arnoldstang 2014-07-24 18:30 
 Re: Poco Forte marking in Brahms  new
kdk 2014-07-24 19:18 
 Re: Poco Forte marking in Brahms  new
brycon 2014-07-24 19:54 
 Re: Poco Forte marking in Brahms  new
Arnoldstang 2014-07-24 21:58 
 Re: Poco Forte marking in Brahms  new
Arnoldstang 2014-07-24 23:44 
 Re: Poco Forte marking in Brahms  new
kdk 2014-07-25 00:29 
 Re: Poco Forte marking in Brahms  new
kdk 2014-07-25 00:56 
 Re: Poco Forte marking in Brahms  new
BobD 2014-07-25 15:41 
 Re: Poco Forte marking in Brahms  new
Arnoldstang 2014-07-26 02:26 
 Re: Poco Forte marking in Brahms  new
kdk 2014-07-26 06:55 
 Re: Poco Forte marking in Brahms  new
Ken Shaw 2014-07-26 18:43 
 Re: Poco Forte marking in Brahms  new
Arnoldstang 2014-07-26 20:09 
 Re: Poco Forte marking in Brahms  new
D Dow 2014-07-30 19:58 
 Re: Poco Forte marking in Brahms  new
elmo lewis 2014-08-02 05:32 


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