Terrace dynamics are a type of dynamic accent that is used in music. It can be described as sudden changes in the volume level, sometimes creating an echo effect. This technique has been used for centuries and is still widely popular today.
The word terraced refers to how these volumes levels appear as steps on a staircase. This technique can be found in many different types of music and can create some interesting effects.
When composers use different dynamic levels in successive phrases or sections, it often creates tension and interest through contrast. This technique was popularized by Johann Sebastian Bach, who used it extensively throughout his compositions.
Some of the most common types of terraced dynamics are described below.
A decrescendo or crescendo is when a volume gradually decreases over time. You might have heard this sound in some pop songs or even classical pieces like Beethoven's 5th Symphony.
Another popular type of terraced dynamic is staccato, which means “detached.” This technique involves playing notes quickly, one after another instead of simultaneously. You may hear this kind of sound during guitar solos or piano ballads if you listen closely.
Finally, let's not forget about tremolo, where musicians play multiple notes on one string simultaneously using vibrato, a wavering effect on each note. Rock bands like The Beatles often use Tremolo for their iconic guitar riffs.
In action, you can hear this technique in Bach’s famous Toccata and Fugue in D minor (BWV 565). The first section starts with an extremely fast tempo at fff (very loud) before slowing down for the second section at ppp (very quiet).
Then it speeds up again for the third section before finally ending on an even louder note than where it started! This creates incredible drama and excitement and demonstrates how powerful this musical device can be when used correctly.
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