Music Theory

Grade 5 Italian And German Musical Terms

Written by Dan Farrant

Last updated

In this post, we’re going to cover all the grade 5 performance directions you need to know for the ABRSM grade 5 music theory exam. I’ve listed them all below.

The good news is, there aren’t that many that you have to learn.

The bad news is, they’re all in Italian… and German.

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

Grade 5 Italian Musical Terms

Like all the other grades up until now, most performance directions are in Italian. These are a mixture of tempo markings, dynamics, and other directions.

Here’s a list of the ones you need to know:

  • a niente – to nothing
  • ad libitum (or ad lib.) – at pleasure, to be played freely
  • attacca – go straight on to the next section of music
  • cantando – singing
  • con dolore – with grief
  • con spirito – with spirit, vigorously
  • doloroso – sorrowful
  • largamente – broadly
  • morendo – dying away
  • perdendosi – getting gradually quieter and dying away
  • quasi – as if, resembling
  • rinforzando (or rf, or rfz, or rinf) – reinforcing
  • smorzando (or smorz) – dying away in tone and speed
  • sonoro – resonant, with a rich tone
  • sotto voce – in a quiet voice

Grade 5 German Musical Terms

Guten tag! Now we’re on to the German terms that you need to learn for the ABRSM grade 5 music theory exam. 

Thankfully, there aren’t too many words to learn.

  • langsam – slow
  • lebhaft – lively
  • mässig – at a moderate speed
  • ruhig – peaceful
  • schnell – fast
  • traurig – sad

Other Terms and Signs

In grade 5, you’ll also need to know all the Italian and French terms and signs from previous grades.

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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.