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You can expect just about any musical term or symbol to crop up in a grade six music theory exam!


Here is a list of terms, organised into groups. However, it’s almost impossible to make a “complete” list of terms for this level.
Make sure you also know everything listed under grade five.
Always check the meaning of any new term you come across when you are playing music.

Jump to the Quiz!

1. Tempo – from very slow to very fast

Italian
LarghissimoVery, very slowAndantinoAt a moderate walking pace
GraveSlow and solemnModeratoModerately
LentoSlowlyAllegrettoModerately fast
LargoBroadlyAllegroFast and bright
LarghettoRather broadlyVivaceFast and lively
AdagioSlow and statelyVivacissimoVery fast and lively
AdagiettoRather slowPrestoVery fast
AndanteAt a walking pacePrestissimoExtremely fast
French
GraveSlowly and solemnlyRapideFast
LentSlowlyVifLively
ModéréModeratelyViteFast
German
LangsamSlowlyLebhaftLively
MässigModeratelyRaschQuickly
BewegtAnimatedSchnellFast

2. Changes in tempo

Italian
AccelerandoSpeeding upAllargandoGrowing broader
Doppio movimentoTwice as fastCalandoGoing slower
Più mossoMore movementMeno mossoLess movement
PrecipitandoHurryingRallentandoGradually slowing
StrettoIn a faster tempoRitardandoSlowing
StringendoPressing on fasterRitenutoSlightly slower
French
Plus viteFasterMoins viteLess fast

3. Mood

Italian
AffettuosoWith feelingLamentosoMournfully
AgitatoAgitatedLeggeroLightly
AppassionatoPassionatelyMaestosoMajestically
AnimatoAnimatedMalinconicoMelancholically
BrillanteSparklingMarcatoMarked
BravuraBoldlyMarzialeIn a military style
CantabileIn a singing styleMestoSadly
DolceSweetlyMorendoDying
EnergicoEnergeticallyNobilmenteNobly
EroicoHeroicallyPateticoWith emotion
EspressivoExpressivelyPesanteHeavily
FuriosoAngrilySaltandoJumpingly
GiocosoMerrilyScherzandoPlayfully
GioiosoJoyfullySostenutoSustained
GrandiosoGrandlyTenerezzaTenderness
GraziosoGracefullyTranquillamenteCalmly
LacrimosoSadlyTrionfanteTriumphantly

4. Bowing Directions

There are a lot of different ways a string player can use a bow.
The more common bowing instructions should be learnt for grade six music theory:

Bowing Directions 
ArcoWith the bow
SpiccatoBounce the bow
Sul ponticelloPlay near the bridge
Con sordinoWith the mute
Up bowUp bow
Col legnoWith the wood of the bow
TremoloMove the bow up and down extremely fast
PizzicatoPluck the strings
Senza sordinoWithout the mute
Down bowDown bow

5. Other Symbols

The following symbols also need to be learnt:

Other Symbols

arpeggio
Arpeggio (broken chord). The lowest note is played first, followed by the second, third etc, in quick succession.
tremoloTremolo (rapidly repeated note). Short diagonal lines across the stem of a note (or notes) show that it should be rapidly repeated. Often you will see “trem.” written above the note as well. A tremolo is a kind of special effect.
measured-semiquaversMeasured semiquavers. This is a shorthand way of writing out semiquavers or other fast notes. The beams show you which note value is intended. Although it looks similar to a tremolo, it doesn’t sound like one.
glissandoGlissando or portamento (rapidly play the notes between the two notated). This is sometimes seen in piano or trombone music. The musician plays all the notes in between the two notated notes as fast as possible.
stopped-noteStopped note. Used for the French horn, this cross instructs the player to move his/her hand further into the instrument’s bell to create a muffled sound. The symbol is a cross or plus sign, over the note affected.

Grade 6 Musical Terms Quiz

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suss - sweet

Musical Terms Quiz ABRSM Grade 6

1 / 20

What does légèrement mean?

2 / 20

What does bewegt mean?

3 / 20

What does adagietto mean?

4 / 20

What does tasto mean?

5 / 20

What does langsam mean?

6 / 20

What does nicht mean?

7 / 20

What does sopra mean?

8 / 20

What does a niente mean?

9 / 20

What does ein mean?

10 / 20

What does fröhlich mean?

11 / 20

What does spiccato mean?

12 / 20

What does breit mean?

13 / 20

What does calando mean?

14 / 20

What does doppio movimento mean?

15 / 20

What does en mesure mean?

16 / 20

What does en dehors mean?

17 / 20

What does volante mean?

18 / 20

What does brio mean?

19 / 20

What does sans mean?

20 / 20

What does tre corda mean?