What Is The Musical Term For Loud?

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In music, when describing how loud a piece of music is we use a series of symbols and Italian words called dynamics. These are how musicians know whether to play loudly, softly or somewhere in between.

In this post, I’ll cover all the different musical terms that we use to describe music as loud. Let’s get started.

Loud in Music Terms

The musical term for playing loudly is called forte.

It’s pronounced ‘for-tay’ and comes from the word for strong in Italian.

The opposite of forte is piano which is the musical term for soft.

When reading music you’ll usually see it written as a capital letter F below the music as shown below.


What About Very Loud

If you wanted to notate for the musician to play even louder you can add the suffix issimo to get fortissimo (ff) which means very loud.


You can keep on going by adding iss to get fortississimo (fff) which means very, very loud and even fortissississimo (ffff) which means very, very, very loud but this is more rare and you won’t see if very often.


The Musical Term for Moderately Loud

When you want the music to be moderately loud we have one more music term called mezzo forte.

Mezzo means moderately and when coupled with forte is abbreviated to the letters mf.

Mezzo forte

Chart of Loud Dynamics

Below is a table of all the musical terms for loud in order of quietest to loudest.

Loud Dynamics Chart
In ItalianSymbolDefinition
mezzo fortemoderately loud
fortissimovery loud
fortississimovery, very loud
fortissississimovery, very, very loud

If you have any other questions about how we notate loud dynamics, let us know.

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Written by Dan Farrant
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.