Crescendo

Music has several elements which reflect dynamic nuances. Have you experienced a moment when the music is gradually getting louder and louder, reaching a certain level of volume? Very effective, isn’t it? This phenomenon in music is called Crescendo.

The meaning of Crescendo in music

Crescendo creates a certain impact on listeners, attracting attention and generating expectations that something is happening, because the sound of the music is growing. Just imagine the whole orchestra or band starts to play more intensively, reaching a certain volume level at a certain moment of the composition. That might sound magnificent and powerful! Usually this moment has a certain meaning for a composer to highlight the context happening in the music.

Also, the crescendo can only be intended for a certain instrument of the band. This instrument begins to increase in volume while the rest of the instruments continue to play with the same dynamics.

The symbol of Crescendo in music

In music charts, how do we recognize when instruments should start increasing the volume and when they should stop? There is a special symbol, indicating crescendo, in music notation. You can see this symbol in charts below the music staves. 

Figure 1 – The symbol of Crescendo in the note charts

Example of crescendo use in music

Let’s take a look at an example. We have this passage in the good old C major scale:

Figure 2 – The passage in the C major scale

Just imagine that you would like to highlight the moment when we’re coming to the G note. How can you do that? This could be the right moment to use crescendo. Let’s gradually build some expectation by increasing the overall volume until we reach the G note! And after that we’ll decrease the volume, starting from the F note.

Figure 3 – C major with dynamics elements

On the figure above, besides the Crescendo sign, you can see the sign of Decrescendo. Decrescendo has the opposite meaning of Crescendo. 

In both pictures you can see “p” at the beginning of the line. “p” is one of the dynamic elements in music notation. Simply put, it’s a way to show the basic volume for a given passage. There are different dynamic elements in music – they deserve an independent article. The dynamic element of this particular example “p” means that this passage should be played quietly.