What is the correct way of saying that the song grew louder gradually?

  1. His song rose in a crescendo

  2. His song rose to a crescendo.

  • 2
    "Rose to a crescendo" is not correct since it's not a destination but a process of getting louder. It's completely appropriate to say, alternatively though, "His song crescendoed to a glorious fortissimo at its climax." – Kristina Lopez Nov 4 '14 at 17:19
  • 1
    @KristinaLopez lovely example. – Joel Anair Nov 4 '14 at 20:18

Because a song can rise both in pitch and in volume, for clarity you might consider simply using crescendo as a verb:

His song crescendoed.

As for the two options you presented, I would choose "in a crescendo" because the crescendo represents the change in volume, not just the final level. As @mikeagg pointed out, the song may have risen to a climax.


If the song gradually grew louder then it rose in a crescendo. It possibly rose to a climax.


To a musician, crescendo is an instruction to get louder, and a crescendo is the action of getting louder. In this context, rose to a crescendo is nonsense.

However, like many technical terms, crescendo has been adopted into common language, with a different meaning; in this case, something like climax; so rose to a crescendo is a common expression.

Rose in a crescendo is a possible phrase, preserving the musical meaning, but it is not very likely, because the musical crescendo already conveys the sense of increase. I don't think it would be said with the general meaning of crescendo.

  • 1
    I agree, both as to the literal paradox and to the change in meaning due to the crossover to common language. The problem with "rose [in or to] a crescendo" is exactly the same as the problem of "fell [in or to] a diminuendo": The Italian instruction is inherent in the simple English verb, so you'd do better to modify the verb with something like "gradually [or quickly] rose." The phrase "reached a crescendo" has a similar problem, although that might be taken to refer to the specific place in a piece of sheet music where the instruction "Crescendo" ("Begin to increase volume") appears. – Sven Yargs Nov 4 '14 at 17:35

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.