What are dynamics?

Catherine Bott explores the very soft and the very loud, and everything in between. Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Classical Music, Sunday 15 February 2015.

musical dynamics

This week, Catherine Bott asks the question: 'What are dynamics?', as she explores the difference between ppppp and fffff.  

The musical highlights includes a piano trio by Brahms in which he uses the directions ppp, molto piano, and quasi niente to express different kinds of quiet.  

At the other end of the scale, there’s Mahler’s Symphony No.7, in which the composer gives the cellos and basses a marking of fffff, along with a footnote directing: ‘pluck so hard that the strings hit the wood.’