Tempo (_continued_)

110. Innumerable combinations of the words defined in Sec. 109 with one

another and with other words occur. Some of these combinations with

their approximate meanings follow. The meaning of any such expression

not found in the list may usually be arrived at by consulting the terms

defined in paragraph 109 and recalling the use of certain auxiliary

terms quoted in Chapter IX.

Largo assai--very slow.

Largo di molto--very slow.

Largo ma non troppo--slow, but not too slow.

Largo un poco--slow, but not so slow as largo. (Cf.



Lentando--with increasing slowness.

Tres lentement--very slowly.

Lentissamente--very slowly.

Lentissamamente--very slowly.

Lento assai--very slowly.

Lento a capriccio--slowly but capriciously.

Lento di molto--very slowly.

Andante affettuoso--moderately slow, and with tenderness and

pathos. [Transcriber's Note: Corrected error affetuoso in


Andante amabile--moderately slow, and lovingly.

Andante cantabile--moderately slow, and in singing style.

Andante grazioso--moderately slow, and gracefully.

Andante maestoso--moderately slow, and majestically.

Andante con moto--slightly faster than andante.

Andante (ma) non troppo--not too slowly.

Andante pastorale--moderately slow, and in simple and

unaffected style; (lit. rural, pastoral).

Andante quasi allegro--almost as rapid in tempo as

allegro; (lit. an andante in the style of allegro).

Andante sostenuto--moderately slow and sustained.

Allegrissimo--much faster than allegro. (The superlative

degree of allegro.)

Allegro agitato--a moderately rapid tempo, and in agitated


Allegro appassionata--a moderately rapid tempo, and in

passionate style.

Allegro assai (very allegro)--faster than allegro.

Allegro commodo--a conveniently rapid tempo.

Allegro con brio--an allegro played in brilliant style.

Faster than allegro.

Allegro con fuoco--an allegro played with fire, i.e.,

with extreme animation. Faster than allegro.

Allegro con spirito--an allegro performed with spirit.

Allegro con moto--faster than allegro.

Allegro di bravura--an allegro performed in brilliant

style, i.e., demanding great skill in execution.

Allegro furioso (furiously)--quicker than allegro; very


Allegro giusto--an allegro movement, but in exact rhythm.

Allegro ma grazioso--an allegro played in graceful style.

Allegro (ma) non tanto--an allegro movement, but not too


Allegro (ma) non troppo--an allegro movement, but not too


Allegro (ma) non presto--an allegro movement, but not too


Allegro moderato--slower than allegro.

Allegro vivace--faster than allegro.

Presto assai--as rapidly as possible.

Presto (ma) non troppo--a presto movement, but not too


111. There are certain terms which indicate a modification of the

normal tempo of a movement, these being divided into two classes, (a)

those terms which indicate in general a slower tempo, and (b) those

which indicate in general a more rapid tempo. The further subdivisions

of these two classes are shown below.

(a) Terms indicating a slower tempo.

1. Terms indicating a gradual retard.

Ritenente, (rit.), ritenuto (rit.), ritardando

(rit.), rallentando (rall.), slentando.

2. Terms indicating a tempo which is to become definitely

slower at once.

Piu lento (lit. more slowly), meno mosso (lit. less


3. Terms indicating a slower tempo combined with an increase

in power.

Largando, allargando. These words are both derived from

largo, meaning large, broad.

(For terms indicating both slower tempo and softer tone, see page 59,

Sec. 127.)

The student should note the difference between groups 1 and 2

as given above: the terms in group 1 indicate that each

measure, and even each pulse in the measure, is a little

slower than the preceding one, while such terms as piu lento

and meno mosso indicate a rate of speed becoming instantly

slower and extending over an entire phrase or passage. Some

composers (e.g., Beethoven and Couperin) have evidently had

this same distinction in mind between rallentando and

ritardando on the one hand, and ritenuto and ritenente

on the other, considering the former (rall. and rit.) to

indicate a gradually slackening speed, and the latter

(ritenuto and ritenente) to indicate a definitely slower

rate. The majority of composers do not however differentiate

between them in this way, and it will therefore hardly be

worth while for the student to try to remember the


(b) Terms indicating a more rapid tempo.

1. Terms indicating a gradual acceleration.

Accelerando, affrettando [Transcriber's Note: Corrected

misspelling affretando in original] (this term implies some

degree of excitement also), stringendo, poco a poco


2. Terms indicating a tempo which is to become definitely

faster at once.

Piu allegro, piu tosto, piu mosso, stretto, un poco


112. After any modification in tempo (either faster or slower) has been

suggested it is usual to indicate a return to the normal rate by some

such expression as a tempo (lit. in time), a tempo primo (lit. in

the first time), tempo primo, or tempo.

113. Tempo rubato (or a tempo rubato) means literally in robbed

time, i.e., duration taken from one measure or beat and given to

another, but in modern practice the term is quite generally applied to

any irregularity of rhythm or tempo not definitely indicated in the


The terms ad libitum, (ad lib.), a piacere, and a capriccio,

also indicate a modification of the tempo at the will of the performer.

Ad libitum means at liberty; a piacere, at pleasure; and a

capriccio, at the caprice (of the performer).

114. The term tempo giusto is the opposite of tempo rubato (and of

the other terms defined in paragraph 113). It means literally in exact

time. (Tempo giusto is sometimes translated quite rapidly,[29] but

this is very unusual.)

[Footnote 29: Bussler--Elements of Notation and Harmony, p. 76.]

115. L'istesso tempo means--at the same rate of speed. E.g., when a

measure signature changes from 2/4 to 6/8 with a change in beat-note

from a quarter to a dotted-quarter, but with the same tempo carried

through the entire movement.

116. Tenuto (ten.) indicates that a tone or chord is to be held to

its full value. This word is sometimes used after a staccato passage to

show that the staccato effect is to be discontinued, but is often used

merely as a warning not to slight a melody-tone--i.e., to give it its

full value.

117. Veloce means--swiftly, and is applied to brilliant passages

(e.g., cadenzas) which are to be played as rapidly as possible without

much regard for measure rhythm. The words rapidamente, brillante and

volante (flying) have the same meaning as veloce.

118. The following expressions referring to tempo are also in common

use but cannot easily be classified with any of the groups already


Con moto--with motion; i.e., not too slow.

Pesante--slowly, heavily.

Doppio movimento--twice as rapid as before.

Tempo ordinario--in ordinary tempo.

Tempo commodo--in convenient tempo.

Sempre lento malinconico assai--always slowly and in a very

melancholy style.

Animando, animato, con anima--with animation.


119. Tempo di marcia is given by Riemann (Dictionary of Music, p. 783)

as equivalent to andante, M.M. 72-84. The same writer gives tempo di

menuetto as equivalent to allegretto, and tempo di valso as

equivalent to allegro moderato (which he regards as indicating a more

rapid tempo than allegretto).