January 20, 2021

Test Your Tempos [Challenge]


Tempo refers to the speed of the beats. Consequently, there are varying speeds of fast and slow. The following list identifies specific speeds.

You Need To Know About Tempos

 The metronome markings provide approximate speeds. 

  • Larghissimo — very, very slow (20 bpm and below)
  • Grave — slow and solemn (20–40 bpm)
  • Lento — slowly (40–60 bpm)
  • Largo — broadly (40–60 bpm)
  • Larghetto — rather broadly (60–66 bpm)
  • Adagio — slow and stately (66–76 bpm)
  • Adagietto — rather slow (70–80 bpm)
  • Andante moderato — a bit slower than andante
  • Andante — at a walking pace (76–108 bpm)
  • Andantino – slightly faster than andante
  • Moderato — moderately (108–120 bpm)
  • Allegretto — moderately fast (but less so than allegro)
  • Allegro moderato — moderately quick (112–124 bpm)
  • Allegro — fast, quickly and bright (120–168 bpm)
  • Vivace — lively and fast (≈140 bpm) (quicker than allegro)
  • Vivacissimo — very fast and lively
  • Allegrissimo — very fast
  • Presto — very fast (168–200 bpm)
  • Prestissimo — extremely fast (more than 200bpm)

Even More Changes

  • Accelerando — speeding up
  • Allargando — growing broader; decreasing tempo, usually near the end of a piece
  • Calando — going slower (and usually also softer)
  • Doppio movimento — double speed
  • Lentando — gradual slowing and softer
  • Meno mosso — less movement or slower
  • Mosso — movement, more lively, or quicker, much like più mosso, but not as extreme 
  • Più mosso — more movement or faster
  • Precipitando — hurrying, going faster/forward
  • Rallentando — gradual slowing down (abbreviation: rall.)
  • Ritardando — less gradual slowing down (more sudden decrease in tempo than rallentando; abbreviation: rit. or more specifically, ritard.)
  • Ritenuto — slightly slower; temporarily holding back.
  • Rubato — free adjustment of tempo for expressive purposes
  • Stretto — in faster tempo, often near the conclusion of a section. 
  • Stringendo — pressing on faster (literally "tightening")

In sum, there are many ways to identify musical speeds. This is because musical culture derives from a culmination of practices taken from around the world. For example, some speeds are easily demonstrated. In contrast, some are easier written down. Furthermore, music terminology will continue to evolve.  Therefore, it is safe to say that we, as music professionals, should continue to learn and use appropriate tempo music terminology. Above all, never stop learning and driving yourself to be smarter.


Classical Music City. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.classicalmusiccity.com/search/article.php?vars=446/Basic-Tempo-Markings.html

Estrella, E. (n.d.). Tempo Is More Than Just Fast or Slow. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/words-used-to-signify-tempo-2456527

Kuznetsova, N., & Tidewater Community College. (n.d.). Music Appreciation. Retrieved from https://courses.lumenlearning.com/musicappreciation_with_theory/chapter/tempo-markings-and-changes/

Tempo. (2018, October 06). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tempo