Speak Musical Italian - Tempo



We are all a little bit Italian

Studying music includes many different areas of knowledge. History and maths, acoustics and psychology, mechanics and specialized music disciplines... It also includes some linguistic training. Composers of music in different countries created pieces sometimes by the thousands, and many forms and terms were introduced by them. That's why we have a lot of foreign language markings on the pages of printed music.

Italian words are certainly the champions. This is because the very prolific Italian composers of the Renaissance and Baroque period used them for the first time. They also were teachers of music in other European countries and made their students and colleagues familiar with the terms.

If you think of it, most musical instruments we play have Italian names, as well as the names of the singing voices, musical forms, and more.

You see an indication of the speed recommended for a piece at the beginning of the score practically without exception. This speed is called --

Tempo - an Italian word for "time" - which for a musician means "speed"

Tempo time   The speed of music
Largo  broad  

Slow and dignified

Larghetto a little bit broad Not as slow as largo
Lentando slowing Becoming slower
Lento slow Slow
Adagio  at ease Slow, but not as slow as largo
Adagietto little adagio Faster than adagio
Andante  walking Moderately slow
Moderato moderately At a moderate speed
Allegretto  a little bit joyful Slightly slower than allegro
Largamente broadly Slow and dignified
Mosso   moved Agitated