Basic tempo markings

By adding an -issimo ending the word is amplified/ made louder, by adding an -ino or -etto ending the word is diminished/ made softer. The metronome marks are broad approximation.


- Larghissimo: very, very slow
- Grave: slow and solemn
- Lento: slowly
- Largo: broadly
- Larghetto: rather broadly
- Adagio: slow and stately
- Adagietto: rather slow
- Andante moderato: a bit slower than andante
- Andante: at a walking pace
- Andantino: slightly faster than andante (although in some cases it can be taken to mean slightly slower than andante)
- Marcia moderato: moderately, in a manner of a march
- Moderato: moderately Fast: - Allegretto: moderately fast
- Allegro: fast, quickly and bright
- Vivace: lively and fast
- Vivacissimo: very fast and lively
- Allegrissimo: very fast
- Presto: very fast
- Prestissimo: extremely fast

Additional terms

- A piacere: the performer may use their own discretion with regard of tempo and rhythm; literally "at pleasure"
- L'istesso tempo or lo stesso tempo: at the same speed
- Tempo comodo: at a comfortable (normal) speed
- Tempo di ...: the speed of a ... (such as a Tempo di valse (speed of waltz), Tempo di marcia (speed of march))
- Tempo giusto: at a consistent speed, at the "right" speed, in strict tempo
- Tempo semplice: simple, regular speed, plainly

Common qualifiers

- alla: in the manner or style of, as in:
- alla breve: in short style, i.e., duple time, with the half note (minim) rather than the quarter note (crotchet) as the beat; cut time; 2/2 instead of 4/4;
- alla marcia: in the manner of march
- all'ongarese: in Hungarian style - alla turca: in Turkish style
- alla zingarese: in the style of Gypsy music
- assai: very much, as in allegro assai; quite fast
- ben: well, as in ben marcato (well marked or accented)
- con bravura: with skill
- con brio: with vigor and spirit
- con fuoco: with fire
- con moto: with motion
- deciso: decidedly, decisively
- fugato: in fugal style
- in modo: in the manner of, in the style of
- meno: less, as in meno mosso (less quickly)
- appena: almost none, as in appena forte (almost not at all loud)
- misterioso: mysterious
- molto: much, very, as in molto allegro (very quick) or molto adagio (very slow)
- non troppo: not too much, e.g. allegro non troppo (or allegro ma non troppo) means "fast, but not too fast"
- non tanto: not so much
- più: more, as in più allegro (more quickly); used as a relative indication when the tempo changes
- piuttosto: rather, as in piuttosto allegro (rather quickly)
- poco: slightly, little, as in poco adagio
- poco a poco: little by little
- primo: principal or early, as in tempo primo, the same tempo as at the beginning
- quasi: almost, nearly, as if (such as più allegro quasi presto, "faster as if presto")
- senza: without, as in senza interruzione (without interruption or pause)
- sostenuto: sustained, prolonged
- subito: suddenly

Mood markings with a tempo connotation

- Affettuoso: with feeling/ emotion
- Agitato: agitated, with implied quickness
- Appassionato: to play passionately
- Animato: animately, lively
- Brillante: sparkling, glittering, as in Allegro brillante, Rondo brillante, or Variations brillantes
- Bravura: broadly
- Cantabile: in singing style
- Dolce: sweetly
- Energico: energetic, strong, forceful
- Eroico: heroically
- Espressivo: expressively
- Furioso: to play in an angry or furious manner
- Giocoso: merrily, funny
- Gioioso: joyfully
- Grandioso: magnificently, grandly
- Grazioso: gracefully
- Lacrimoso: tearfully, sadly
- Lamentoso: lamenting, mournfully
- Leggiero: to play lightly, or with a light touch
- Leggiadro: lightly and gracefully
- Maestoso: majestic or stately (which generally indicates a solemn, slow march-like movement)
- Malinconico: melancholic
- Marcato: marching tempo, marked with emphasis
- Marziale: in a march style, usually in a simple, strongly marked rhythm and regular phrase
- Mesto: sad, mournful
- Misterioso: mystical, in a shady manner
- Morendo: dying
- Nobilmente: nobly
- Patetico: with great emotion
- Pesante: heavily
- Saltando: jumpy, fast and short
- Scherzando: playfully
- Sostenuto: sustained, sometimes with a slackening of tempo
- Spiccato: slow sautille, with a bouncy manner
- Tenerezza: tenderness
- Tranquillamente: adverb of tranquillo, "calmly"
- Trionfante: triumphantly
- Vivace: lively and fast

Terms for change in tempo

- Accelerando: speeding up (abbreviation: accel.)
- Allargando: growing broader; decreasing tempo; usually near the end of a piece
- Calando: going slower (and usually also softer)
- Dopio movimento/ dopio più mosso: double speed
- Lentando: gradual slowing and softer
- Meno mosso: less movement or slower
- Mosso: movement, more lively, or quicker
- Più mosso: more movement or faster
- Precipitando: hurrying, going faster/ forward
- Rallentando: gradual slowing down (abbreviation: rall.)
- Ritardando: slowing down gradually; also see rallentando and ritenuto (abbreviation: rit., 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")
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