Leggiero music definition: what does leggiero mean when written on a score?
Want to find out what leggiero means? We tell you all you need to know.
What does leggiero mean?
The word leggiero is Italian for ‘light’ or ‘lightly’. The term is used on a musical score – typically in relation to swift passages – to indicate the musician should play the relevant section with a light, delicate and graceful touch.
While terms relating to a piece of music’s dynamics – i.e., its strength of sound (how quietly or loudly the piece is performed) – such as ‘piano’ (softly) or ‘pianissimo’ (very softly) can also introduce a ‘gentler’ mood to the music, such terms don’t embody the almost ethereal quality that leggiero demands.
More musical terms explained
For example, when playing the piano or a stringed instrument, such as the violin, leggiero would require only minimal pressure be applied to the keys or strings, producing a more delicate sound than merely playing ‘quietly’. Leggiero can be applied to legato or staccato sections but is most likely to be included in sections of music marked as having a softer or quieter dynamic profile.
Examples of leggiero
Grieg’s Old Norwegian Romance (Opus 51) and Mendelssohn’s Song Without Words No 2 (Opus 67) are just two classical pieces that feature the leggiero technique.