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Forte vs. Piano: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
Forte means loud in music dynamics, while piano means soft.
Forte vs. Piano

Key Differences

Forte in music indicates a passage should be played loudly, with energy and strength. Conversely, piano signifies that the passage should be played softly and quietly. Both terms are essential for expressing dynamics in musical performance, guiding musicians in how to convey emotion and intensity.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023
While forte demands a bold, pronounced sound, piano calls for a more subdued, gentle approach. These dynamic instructions contribute to the texture and mood of a piece, with forte often building excitement or climax and piano creating a sense of calm or intimacy.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023
Forte is derived from the Italian word for "strong," a directive for musicians to increase the volume. Piano, on the other hand, is short for pianoforte, originally referring to the instrument capable of both soft and loud play, and in dynamic terms, it instructs a decrease in volume.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023
In an orchestra, when the conductor signals forte, the musicians intensify their playing, whereas a piano signal reduces the ensemble's volume, showcasing the ebb and flow of musical storytelling. Each dynamic has its role, with forte grabbing attention and piano inviting introspection.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023
Forte and piano can dramatically change a piece of music's effect on the listener, with forte often used for impactful, energetic sections and piano for more delicate, expressive parts. The contrast between them can enhance the drama and emotional depth of a performance.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Volume

Loud
Soft
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Nov 11, 2023

Italian Meaning

Strong
Quiet
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Musical Expression

Energetic and strong
Subtle and delicate
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Symbol

F or ff (fortissimo for very loud)
P or pp (pianissimo for very soft)
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Emotional Effect

Can convey power or intensity
Often conveys calmness or tenderness
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Nov 11, 2023
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Forte and Piano Definitions

Forte

The part of a sword or blade that is strong and used for parrying.
He deftly blocked with the forte of his blade.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 08, 2023

Piano

A musical instrument with keys, strings, and a hinged lid.
She played a haunting melody on the piano.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 08, 2023

Forte

An activity one excels in.
Cooking is his forte; his meals are always delightful.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 08, 2023

Piano

A dynamic direction in music indicating softness.
The pianist transitioned to piano as the song progressed.
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Nov 08, 2023

Forte

Used to describe something one is particularly good at.
Strategic games are definitely my forte.
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Nov 08, 2023
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Piano

A musical instrument with a manual keyboard actuating hammers that strike wire strings, producing sounds that may be softened or sustained by means of pedals.
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Oct 19, 2023

Forte

Something in which a person excels
“His forte was in defusing negative rumors before they ever exploded into news accounts” (Jane Mayer).
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Piano

A passage to be played softly or quietly.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Forte

The strong part of a sword blade, between the middle and the hilt.
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Oct 19, 2023

Piano

In a soft or quiet tone. Used chiefly as a direction.
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Oct 19, 2023

Forte

A note, passage, or chord played forte.
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Oct 19, 2023

Piano

(musical instruments) a percussive keyboard musical instrument, usually ranging over seven octaves, with white and black colored keys, played by pressing these keys, causing hammers to strike strings
The piano in his house takes up a lot of space.
She has been taking lessons for many years and now plays piano very well.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Forte

In a loud, forceful manner. Used chiefly as a direction.
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Oct 19, 2023

Piano

To play the piano.
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Oct 19, 2023

Forte

A strength or talent.
He writes respectably, but poetry is not his forte.
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Oct 19, 2023

Piano

(of or with fingers) To move (the fingers) up and down on, similar to the motions of a pianist playing the piano.
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Oct 19, 2023

Forte

The strong part of a sword blade, close to the hilt.
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Oct 19, 2023

Piano

To equip with a piano.
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Oct 19, 2023

Forte

A passage in music to be played loudly; a loud section of music.
This forte marks the climax of the second movement.
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Oct 19, 2023

Piano

To become softer and less intense.
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Oct 19, 2023

Forte

(music) Loud. Used as a dynamic directive in sheet music in its abbreviated form, "f.", to indicate raising the volume of the music. (Abbreviated in musical notation with an f, the Unicode character 1D191.)
This passage is forte, then there's a diminuendo to mezzo piano.
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Oct 19, 2023

Piano

(music) softly, as a musical direction (abbreviated to p. in sheet music)
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Oct 19, 2023

Forte

(music) Loudly.
The musicians played the passage forte.
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Oct 19, 2023

Piano

(music) Soft, quiet.
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Oct 19, 2023

Forte

The strong point; that in which one excels.
The construction of a fable seems by no means the forte of our modern poetical writers.
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Oct 19, 2023

Piano

(in extended use) Gentle, soft, subdued.
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Oct 19, 2023

Forte

The stronger part of the blade of a sword; the part of half nearest the hilt; - opposed to foible.
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Oct 19, 2023

Piano

Soft; - a direction to the performer to execute a certain passage softly, and with diminished volume of tone. (Abbrev. p.
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Oct 19, 2023

Forte

Loudly; strongly; powerfully.
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Oct 19, 2023

Piano

A well-known musical instrument somewhat resembling the harpsichord, and consisting of a series of wires of graduated length, thickness, and tension, struck by hammers moved by keys.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Forte

An asset of special worth or utility;
Cooking is his forte
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Oct 19, 2023

Piano

A stringed instrument that is played by depressing keys that cause hammers to strike tuned strings and produce sounds
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Oct 19, 2023

Forte

(music) with great loudness
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Oct 19, 2023

Piano

(music) low loudness
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Oct 19, 2023

Forte

The stronger part of a sword blade between the hilt and the foible
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Oct 19, 2023

Piano

Used chiefly as a direction or description in music;
The piano passages in the composition
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Oct 19, 2023

Forte

Used chiefly as a direction or description in music;
The forte passages in the composition
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Piano

Used as a direction in music; to be played relatively softly
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Oct 19, 2023

Forte

Used as a direction in music; to be played relatively loudly
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Oct 19, 2023

Piano

Played softly in music.
The piece begins piano, with a gentle melody.
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Nov 08, 2023

Forte

A person's strong suit or skill.
Mathematics is her forte.
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Nov 08, 2023

Piano

Referring to gentle, quiet sound in music.
The piano passages in the symphony were exquisite.
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Nov 08, 2023

Forte

Loudly in music dynamics.
The chorus entered forte, filling the hall with sound.
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Nov 08, 2023

Piano

An instruction in sheet music to play quietly.
He marked the score with 'piano' to ensure a soft sound.
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Nov 08, 2023

Repeatedly Asked Queries

How is piano used in music terminology?

Piano indicates music should be played softly.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023

Can forte apply to other areas besides music?

Yes, it can also mean a person's strong point.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023

Is piano only a musical term?

No, it's also an instrument with keys and strings.
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Nov 11, 2023

What is the symbol for piano in musical notation?

The letter 'p' represents piano.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023

Is forte always loud?

In musical context, yes; in personal skill, it's about strength, not volume.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023

What does forte mean in music?

Forte means to play loudly or with strength.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023

What symbol represents forte in music?

The letter 'f' indicates forte in sheet music.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023

Are there degrees of forte and piano?

Yes, ff means very loud (fortissimo) and pp means very soft (pianissimo).
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Nov 11, 2023

Can an entire piece be played forte or piano?

Yes, but varying dynamics typically add more interest.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023

Can forte and piano be combined in music?

Yes, composers often use both to create dynamics.
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Nov 11, 2023

What dynamic is softer than piano?

Pianissimo (pp) is softer than piano.
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Nov 11, 2023

What does a piano dynamic bring to a piece?

It brings subtlety and tenderness.
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Nov 11, 2023

Can singers use forte and piano?

Yes, singers use these dynamics to add expression to their performance.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023

Can the terms forte and piano be used for all instruments?

Yes, they apply to all instruments capable of dynamic variation.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023

What's softer, piano or mezzo-piano?

Piano is softer than mezzo-piano.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023

How do you increase from piano to forte?

Gradually increase volume, possibly using a crescendo.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023

How does forte affect a musical performance?

It adds power and intensity.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023

Does piano always indicate a lower volume?

In music dynamics, yes; it does not refer to volume when discussing the instrument.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023

What's louder, forte or mezzo-forte?

Forte is louder than mezzo-forte.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023

Do forte and piano affect the tempo of music?

No, they refer to volume, not speed.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023

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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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