Obviously, when a composer or arranger assigns a dynamic marking, you need to follow it. However, if the piece or song is marked p for soft or f for loud, not all notes in a section are played at the exact same level of soft or loud. You can still be playing with more dynamics! Melody notes will be played or sung a little louder than notes that are in the accompaniment so they are heard above the other notes. When you are playing or singing passages that rise in pitch, you generally get louder and when singing or playing passages that go down in pitch, you get softer. Find the climactic point of each measure, phrase, section, and the entire piece. They will usually be louder.
Playing or singing accents- When a note is marked with an accent, performers know to sing or play that particular note louder. However, there are natural accents in that occur in music. Sometimes notes that are long, held notes should be brought out. The last note of a long run or string of notes might have a natural accent. Notes located on a strong beat of the measure and syncopated notes may have a natural accent. If these notes are not marked with an accent or a dynamic marking, simply enhance the note or notes by ‘leaning’ on the note a little to give it slightly more emphasis and you song will sound great. Theory comes in handy when thinking about dynamics. Understanding which notes are appogiaturas help with dynamic shading. Feminine cadences are slightly stressed as well.
Playing with more dynamics is actually very easy to do. You simply play louder or softer. However, many performers don’t do it. When you first start to learn a piece, play or sing the dynamics right away and play them as you learn the notes. This way the dynamics will be automatic in your performance and you will not need to add them later.
If you would like personal assistance with any of the blog concepts, online and on-location lessons are available from Let’s Play Music and Make Art, LLC located in Derry and Londonderry, NH. www.letsplaymusic.com