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  • parlando or parlante: like speech, enunciated
  • Partitur (Ger): full orchestral score
  • passionato: passionately
  • pastorale: in a pastoral style, peaceful and simple
  • pausa: rest
  • pedale or ped: In piano scores, this instructs the player to press the damper pedal to sustain the note or chord being played. The player may be instructed to release the pedal with an asterisk marking (*). In organ scores, it tells the organist that a section is to be performed on the bass pedalboard with the feet.
  • penseroso: thoughtfully, meditatively
  • perdendosi: dying away; decrease in dynamics, perhaps also in tempo
  • pesante: heavy, ponderous
  • peu à peu (Fr): little by little
  • pianissimo or pp : very gently; i.e., perform very softly, even softer than piano. This convention can be extended; the more ps that are written, the softer the composer wants the musician to play or sing, thus ppp (pianississimo) would be softer than pp. Dynamics in a piece should be interpreted relative to the other dynamics in the same piece. For example, pp should be executed as softly as possible, but if ppp is found later in the piece, pp should be markedly louder than ppp. More than three ps (ppp) or three fs (fff) are uncommon.
  • piano or p (usually): gently; i.e., played or sung softly (see dynamics)
  • piano-vocal score: the same as a vocal score, a piano arrangement along with the vocal parts of an opera, cantata, or similar
  • piacevole: pleasant
  • piangevole: plaintive
  • più: more; see mosso for an example
  • pizzicato: pinched, plucked; i.e., in music for bowed strings, plucked with the fingers as opposed to played with the bow; compare arco (in this list), which is inserted to cancel a pizzicato instruction
  • pochettino or poch.: very little
  • poco: a little, as in poco più allegro (a little faster)
  • poco a poco: little by little
  • poetico: poetic discourse
  • poi: then, indicating a subsequent instruction in a sequence; diminuendo poi subito fortissimo, for example: getting softer then suddenly very loud
  • portamento: carrying; i.e., 1. generally, sliding in pitch from one note to another, usually pausing just above or below the final pitch, then sliding quickly to that pitch. If no pause is executed, then it is a basic glissando; or 2. in piano music, an articulation between legatoand staccato, like portato, in this list
  • portato or loure: carried; i.e., non-legato, but not as detached as staccato (same asportamento [2], in this list)
  • posato: settled
  • potpourri or pot-pourri (Fr): potpourri (as used in other senses in English); i.e., a kind of musical form structured as ABCDEF... etc.; the same as medley or, sometimes,fantasia
  • precipitato: precipitately
  • prelude or prélude (Fr): a musical introduction to subsequent movements during theBaroque era (1600's/17th century). It can also be a movement in its own right, which was more common in the Romantic era (mid 1700's/18th century)
  • prestissimo: extremely quickly, as fast as possible
  • presto: very quickly
  • prima volta: the first time; for example prima volta senza accompagnamento (the first time without accompaniment)
  • primo or prima (the feminine form): first
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