Tempo is the speed at which a piece of music is performed. It is measured in beats per minute (BPM).
A tempo marking is usually placed at the beginning of a piece or anywhere a new tempo is to occur.
Figure 1: A tempo marking written at the beginning of a piece.
Tempo notation is a vocabulary of terms used to generally describe the pace of a song.
They are all in Italian simply because they came into use around 1600-1750, a time when the bulk of European music came from Italian composers.
Figure 2: A tempo notation mark written at the beginning of a piece.
The following is a list of tempo notation marks with their corresponding tempos:
|Tempo Notation Mark||Description|
|Grave||The slowest pace. Very formal and very, very slow.|
|Largo||Funeral march slow. Very serious and somber.|
|Larghetto||Slow, but not as slow as largo.|
|Adagio||Leisurely. Think graduation and wedding marches.|
|Andante||Walking pace. Close to the original minim.|
|Andantio||Slightly faster than andante. Think Pasty Cline's "Walking After Midnight," or any other lonely cowboy ballad you can think of.|
|Moderato||Right smack in the middle. Not fast or slow, just moderate.|
|Allegro||Quick, brisk, galloping along.|
|Prestissimo||Think "Flight of the Bumblebee."|
Also see Expression Marks | Tuplets.