Definition and background:
A directive to perform a specific note or chord of a composition with particular emphasis. The note or chord would be performed as if it had an accent as shown below and performed at the dynamic level indicated. It is typically shown as the abbreviation, sf, sff, or sfff.This term can be confused with sforzato which has a similar effect (shown below) and is indicated by the abbreviation sfz, sffz, or sfffz. In fact, many music dictionaries show both sforzando and sforzato as having the same meaning. Forte Dynamic Fortissimo Dynamic Fortississimo Dynamic Sforzando Sforzando Sforzando Sforzato Sforzato Sforzato See also dynamics; sf; sff; sfff; sforzato; sfz; sffz; sfffz; sfp. Italian. (sfz.) With sudden emphasis. Literally "forced", denotes an abrupt, fierce accent on a single sound or chord. Note: when written out in full, it applies to the sequence of sounds or chords under or over which it is placed. sudden strong accent on a single note
Italian. (sfz.) With sudden emphasis
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Wikipedia - Glossary of Musical Terminology
Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary
ORB -- Medieval Music Glossary