Musical theory and notation, illustrated by iconic ‘Friends’ scenes

7 January 2021, 17:17

Friends music theory
Friends music theory. Picture: Giphy

By Kyle Macdonald

Your favourite 1990s sitcom is here to help teach you about music notation. Could we BE any geekier?

  1. Rallentando

    (Lit. 'slowing down'). A gradual decrease in speed similar to that of a ritardando.

    via GIPHY
  2. Staccato

    (Lit. 'detached'). Note is to be played shorter than notated, usually half the value. The rest of the metric value is then silent.

    via GIPHY
  3. Strascinando

    Performance marking, indicating that a passage should be played in a heavily slurred, unarticulated manner.

    via GIPHY
  4. Subito

    Suddenly. For example 'subito forte' – suddenly loud.

    via GIPHY
  5. Accelerando

    Getting faster, suddenly increasing the tempo.

    via GIPHY
  6. Spiccato

    Distinct, separated. A way of playing the violin and other bowed instruments by bouncing the bow on the string, giving a characteristic staccato effect.

    via GIPHY
  7. Three-part fugue, final entry

    In contrapuntal music. The final part joins the texture, imitating the previous two.

    via GIPHY
  8. Marcato

    (Lit. 'marked'). Played somewhat louder or more forcefully than a note with a regular accent mark.

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  9. Scherzo

    A musical joke. A light, humorous or playful musical form, originally and usually in fast triple metre, often replacing the ‘Minuet’ in the later Classical, and Romantic period.

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  10. Portato

    (Italian: 'to carry'). Denotes a smooth, pulsing articulation and is often notated by adding dots under slur markings.

    via GIPHY
  11. Fermata

    A pause. A note, chord or rest sustained for longer than its customary value.

    via GIPHY
  12. Diminuendo

    Gradually decrease the volume of the music.

    via GIPHY