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

10 March 2020, 17:04 | Updated: 10 March 2020, 17:12

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.

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  3. Strascinando

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

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  4. Subito

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

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  5. Accelerando

    Getting faster, suddenly increasing the tempo.

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  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.

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  7. Three-part fugue, final entry

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

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  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.

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  11. Fermata

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

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  12. Diminuendo

    Gradually decrease the volume of the music.

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