Tempo Markings in Music

All Tempo markings in music define the music speed of any given piece of music.

Tempo and dynamics (or volume level) are the two most important elements in music.  Both of these important elements create the emotional impact from music begin performed.

Tempo Markings in Music

Slow tempos in music create a completely different mood that fast tempos in music. Use the tempo markings in music to make it more expressive and emotional.

Look at the musical examples below.  Notice the tempo markings of Andante, Allegro and Moderato placed over above the first note of each piece.  Each tempo marking is an Italian word and is defined below.

Find Italian words referring to tempo with some examples of music using those terms.

Music Speeds

Music speeds are also known as music tempo markings.  These speeds are written in by the composer at the beginning of a piece of music.  These markings indicate whether the music should move slowly, moderately or fast.

There are many variations in between each of these music speed categories.  However, slow, medium and fast tempos are only described by Italian words.

Andante is an Italian word which means a walking speed. Moderato means a moderate speed.  Also, Allegro means to play the piece fast or quickly.

The music speeds or tempo words are in Italian because the Italians were the first one to print music over 500 years ago.

Tempo Markings Beats Per Minute

Each music speed has a tempo markings beats per minute number associated with it on the metronome.

For example, if a piece has the word Allegro written in at the very beginning of a piece it means that the music should be played equal to the amount of at least 88 beats per minute.

Andante – walking tempo

tempo markings in music
Allegro – fast

Tempo Markings in Music

Allegretto – slightly slower than Allegro
Moderato – medium tempo
Vivace – very fast
Lento – very slow
Grave – very very slow
Ritardando (Rit.) – gradually slowing down

Music Tempo

Music tempo or the speed of a piece of music and dynamic markings fuse together to create the “interpretation” or musical landscape of any given piece of music.  It is this combination of music speed along with the notes which, when performed in a controlled and knowledgeable way, create the true artistry in music.

A good student will not play only notes but also add music tempo and dynamics to create music which reaches out to the listener as well.  It is through this “connecting with the audience” that music has the power to reach out and  touch the heart and soul of any audience around the globe.  Thus, music truly is a universal language.

Music Expression Links

Dynamic Markings in Music

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