Common French and German Musical Terms

Don't just guess at what important musical terms mean!

John Ericson

These are the terms most commonly encountered in the horn solo literature. Terms related to stopped and muted horn are * marked.

  • à plein son: a full sound
  • au mouvt: with movement/A tempo
  • *avec sourdine: muted
  • cèdez: go slower
  • comme un echo lointain: like a distant echo
  • *cuivrés: brassy
  • *enlevez sourd.: remove mute
  • legerement: lightly
  • legerement retenu: slightly slower
  • lent: slow
  • *mettez sourd.: insert mute
  • moins vif: less lively
  • *ouvert: open
  • plus lent: more slowly
  • retenu: ritard
  • revenez: gradually faster
  • *sons bouchés: stopped
  • *sons naturels: open
  • très: very
  • très marque: very markedly
  • très modere: very moderately
  • très vif: very lively

  • allmählich: gradually
  • bewegt: moved, agitated
  • breit(er): (more) broadly
  • *Dämpfer: mute
  • erstez Zeitmass: first tempo
  • etwas breiter: somewhat more broadly
  • etwas lebhafter: somewhat faster
  • etwas zurückhaltend: holding back (tempo) somewhat
  • frisch: fresh
  • *gedämpft: muted
  • *gestopft: stopped
  • Hauptzeitmass (haupttempo): Tempo of the beginning (Tempo I)
  • immer: still (continuing)
  • langsam: slowly
  • lebhaft(er): (more) lively [Allegro]
  • mässig: moderately
  • Mit grossem Ton: with a big tone
  • *offen: open
  • ohne: without
  • *ohne Dampfer: without mute
  • ruhig: calmly
  • sehr: very
  • Volles Zeitmass: full tempo
  • wie vorher: as before
  • wieder: again
  • Zeitmass: tempo

For a somewhat longer list focused on orchestral terms I recommend the list at the back of the Horn Player’s Audition Handbook, edited by Arthur LaBar, published by Warner Bros. Publications.

Copyright John Ericson. All rights reserved.


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