Monday, December 14, 2009

From Madison the pianist

Dear Word Spy,

I am learning the piano. I want to know why I have to learn all these Italian words. I mean, if they want me to play it fast, why don't they just write "Fast" above the notes instead of "Allegro"? I think it's quite annoying.

yours sincerely,


Dear Madison.

Good question! now as for the answer...

All those Italian words that tell you how to play something (fast, slow, sad, relaxed etc) go back about four hundred years. At that time there were so many wonderful Italian musicians and composers, and there were also a lot of Italian publishers who printed music and sold it all over Europe. So somehow the Italian way of saying musical things just took over, and we still use these words today.

It's not just the written music. Many musical instruments themselves are Italian words, like piano, cello and piccolo. Also the names of types of singing voices, like soprano and alto.

I say bravo, bravissimo to Italy! (even if it is quite annoying sometimes.)

Hey, you might like this crossword - - the answers to the clues are all Italian musical words.

Arrivaderci, The Word Spy

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