We have already heard the word “intensity” in music. But what do you mean when you talk about intensity?
For example, we can talk about intensity in colors or flavors. We can say that this green is more intense than this other. Or that the taste of dark chocolate is more intense than that of milk chocolate.
Something similar happens in music. When we play an instrument, such as a piano or a guitar, we can distinguish less or more intensity depending on the energy or the delicacy that the musician applies to the note or the set of notes that he is playing, and also the interpretation techniques that the musicians are using during their song.
Let’s see an example with a jazz song.
In this composition of Dizzy Gillespie, we can hear clearly how in the beginning we have a low intensity. Little by little we start to feel how it increase, not only because of volume, but also because of rhythm and interaction between all the instruments.
Here we have another exemple, a classic one:
A great direction of Gustavo Dudamel. Here we can hear the “Bolero de Ravel”, and also how the intensity increases little by little.
Not only there are low intensities and high intensities. In the same way that there is a whole range of greens with different intensities, or a whole range of flavors in chocolates.
In music, to indicate to an interpreter at what level of intensity should play the different parts of a piece of music, the following terms of Italian origin are usually used: pianissimo very low intensity.
p = piano = soft.
mp = mezzo piano = medium soft.
mf = mezzo forte = medium strong.
f = forte = high strong.
ff = fortissimo = very high intensity.
And this is what is meant when we talk about intensity in music. If you have found it useful, you can subscribe to my newsletter to know when the next article will be available, you also can follow me on my youtube chanel (Musicología On Fire) where i share this kind of content on video. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments or send me a message and I will answer.