Music TheoryPerformance Directions

Grade 4 Italian And French Musical Terms

Written by Dan Farrant

Last updated

Studying for your grade 4 music theory exam? Then, there are some performance directions you’re going to need to learn.

At grade 4, it’s not just Italian words, though. We also have to learn some French words.


ABRSM updated their syllabus in 2020, so these terms are different from before.

Grade 4 Italian Musical Terms

  • affettuoso – tenderly
  • alla breve – with a half note (minim) beat
  • amabile – amiable, pleasant
  • appassionato – with passion
  • assai – very
  • come prima – as before
  • comodo, tempo comodo – convenient, a comfortable tempo
  • con brio – with vigour
  • deciso – with determination
  • larghetto – rather slow (not as slow as largo)
  • mesto – sad
  • misterioso – mysteriously
  • ritmico – rhythmically
  • rubato, tempo rubato – with some freedom of time
  • stringendo – gradually getting faster

Grade 4 French Musical Terms 

Maintenant, time for some French musical terms. Some of them are quite similar to the Italian, thankfully.

  • animé – animated, lively
  • douce – sweet
  • lent – slow
  • modéré – at a moderate speed
  • retenu – held back
  • vite – quick

Other Musical Terms And Symbols To Learn

For the grade 4 exam, you’ll be expected to know all the performance directions from previous grades as well.

Then, when you’re ready for Grade 5, here are those terms.

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Dan Farrant, the founder of Hello Music Theory, has been teaching music for over 15 years, helping hundreds of thousands of students unlock the joy of music. He graduated from The Royal Academy of Music in 2012 and then launched Hello Music Theory in 2014. He plays the guitar, piano, bass guitar and double bass and loves teaching music theory.