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In musical terminology, tempo ("time" in Italian) is the speed or pace of a given piece. In classical music, tempo is typically indicated with an instruction at the start of a piece (often using conventional Italian terms) and is usually measured in beats per minute (or bpm). In modern classical compositions, a "metronome mark" in beats per minute may supplement or replace the normal tempo marking, while in modern genres like electronic dance music, tempo will typically simply be stated in bpm.
Italian is a Romance language of the Indo-European language family. Italian descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, and together with Sardinian, is by most measures the closest language to it of the Romance languages. Italian is an official language in Italy, Switzerland, San Marino and Vatican City. It has an official minority status in western Istria. It formerly had official status in Albania, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro (Kotor) and Greece, and is generally understood in Corsica and Savoie. It also used to be an official language in the former Italian East Africa and Italian North Africa, where it still plays a significant role in various sectors. Italian is also spoken by large expatriate communities in the Americas and Australia. Italian is included under the languages covered by the European Charter for Regional or Minority languages in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Romania, although Italian is neither a co-official nor a regional or a traditional language in these countries, where Italians do not represent a historical minority. In the case of Romania, Italian is listed by the Government along 10 other languages which supposedly receive a "general protection", but not between those which should be granted an "advanced or enhanced" one. Many speakers of Italian are native bilinguals of both Italian and other regional languages.
Musical composition, or simply composition, can refer to an original piece or work of music, either vocal or instrumental, the structure of a musical piece, or to the process of creating or writing a new piece of music. People who create new compositions are called composers. Composers of primarily songs are usually called songwriters; with songs, the person who writes lyrics for a song is the lyricist. In many cultures, including Western classical music, the act of composing typically includes the creation of music notation, such as a sheet music "score," which is then performed by the composer or by other instrumental musicians or singers. In popular music and traditional music, songwriting may involve the creation of a basic outline of the song, called the lead sheet, which sets out the melody, lyrics and chord progression. In classical music, orchestration is typically done by the composer, but in musical theatre and in pop music, songwriters may hire an arranger to do the orchestration. In some cases, a pop or traditional songwriter may not use written notation at all, and instead compose the song in their mind and then play, sing and/or record it from memory. In jazz and popular music, notable sound recordings by influential performers are given the weight that written or printed scores play in classical music.
In music and music theory, the beat is the basic unit of time, the pulse, of the mensural level. The beat is often defined as the rhythm listeners would tap their toes to when listening to a piece of music, or the numbers a musician counts while performing, though in practice this may be technically incorrect. In popular use, beat can refer to a variety of related concepts including: pulse, tempo, meter, specific rhythms, and groove.
Tempo may be separated from articulation and meter, or these aspects may be indicated along with tempo, all contributing to the overall texture. While the ability to hold a steady tempo is a vital skill for a musical performer, tempo is changeable. Depending on the genre of a piece of music and the performers' interpretation, a piece may be played with slight tempo rubato or drastic accelerando. In ensembles, the tempo is often indicated by a conductor or by one of the instrumentalists, for instance the drummer.
Articulation is a fundamental musical parameter that determines how a single note or other discrete event is sounded. Articulations primarily structure an event's start and end, determining the length of its sound and the shape of its attack and decay. They can also modify an event's timbre, dynamics, and pitch. Musical articulation is analagous to the articulation of speech, and during the Baroque and Classical periods it was taught by comparison to oratory.
In music, texture is how the tempo, melodic, and harmonic materials are combined in a composition, thus determining the overall quality of the sound in a piece. Texture is often described in regard to the density, or thickness, and range, or width, between lowest and highest pitches, in relative terms as well as more specifically distinguished according to the number of voices, or parts, and the relationship between these voices. For example, a thick texture contains many 'layers' of instruments. One of these layers could be a string section, or another brass. The thickness also is changed by the amount and the richness of the instruments playing the piece. The thickness varies from light to thick. A piece's texture may be changed by the number and character of parts playing at once, the timbre of the instruments or voices playing these parts and the harmony, tempo, and rhythms used. The types categorized by number and relationship of parts are analyzed and determined through the labeling of primary textural elements: primary melody (PM), secondary melody (SM), parallel supporting melody (PSM), static support (SS), harmonic support (HS), rhythmic support (RS), and harmonic and rhythmic support (HRS).
Tempo rubato is a musical term referring to expressive and rhythmic freedom by a slight speeding up and then slowing down of the tempo of a piece at the discretion of the soloist or the conductor. Rubato is an expressive shaping of music that is a part of phrasing.
While tempo is described or indicated in many different ways, including with a range of words (e.g., "Slowly", "Adagio" and so on), it is typically measured in beats per minute (bpm or BPM). For example, a tempo of 60 beats per minute signifies one beat per second, while a tempo of 120 beats per minute is twice as rapid, signifying one beat every 0.5 seconds. The note value of a beat will typically be that indicated by the denominator of the time signature. For instance, in 4
4 the beat will be a crotchet, or quarter note.
In music notation, a note value indicates the relative duration of a note, using the texture or shape of the notehead, the presence or absence of a stem, and the presence or absence of flags/beams/hooks/tails. Unmodified note values are fractional powers of two, for example one, one-half, one fourth, etc.
The time signature is a notational convention used in Western musical notation to specify how many beats (pulses) are contained in each measure (bar), and which note value is equivalent to a beat.
This measurement and indication of tempo became increasingly popular during the first half of the 19th century, after Johann Nepomuk Maelzel invented the metronome. Beethoven was one of the first composers to use the metronome; in the 1810s he published metronomic indications for the eight symphonies he had composed up to that time.
Johann Nepomuk Maelzel was a German inventor, engineer, and showman, best known for manufacturing a metronome and several music automatons, and displaying a fraudulent chess machine. He worked with Beethoven to compose a piece.
A metronome, from ancient Greek μέτρον and νέμω, is a device that produces an audible click or other sound at a regular interval that can be set by the user, typically in beats per minute (BPM). Musicians use the device to practice playing to a regular pulse. Metronomes typically include synchronized visual motion.
Instead of beats per minute, some 20th-century classical composers (e.g., Béla Bartók, Alberto Ginastera, and John Cage) specify the total playing time for a piece, from which the performer can derive tempo.[ citation needed ]
Béla Viktor János Bartók was a Hungarian composer, pianist, and ethnomusicologist. He is considered one of the most important composers of the 20th century; he and Franz Liszt are regarded as Hungary's greatest composers. Through his collection and analytical study of folk music, he was one of the founders of comparative musicology, which later became ethnomusicology.
Alberto Evaristo Ginastera was an Argentinian composer of classical music. He is considered one of the most important 20th-century classical composers of the Americas.
John Milton Cage Jr. was an American composer, music theorist, artist, and philosopher. A pioneer of indeterminacy in music, electroacoustic music, and non-standard use of musical instruments, Cage was one of the leading figures of the post-war avant-garde. Critics have lauded him as one of the most influential composers of the 20th century. He was also instrumental in the development of modern dance, mostly through his association with choreographer Merce Cunningham, who was also Cage's romantic partner for most of their lives.
With the advent of modern electronics, bpm became an extremely precise measure. Music sequencers use the bpm system to denote tempo.[ citation needed ] In popular music genres such as electronic dance music, accurate knowledge of a tune's bpm is important to DJs for the purposes of beatmatching.[ citation needed ]
A music sequencer is a device or application software that can record, edit, or play back music, by handling note and performance information in several forms, typically CV/Gate, MIDI, or Open Sound Control (OSC), and possibly audio and automation data for DAWs and plug-ins.
Electronic dance music (EDM), also known as dance music, club music, or simply dance, is a broad range of percussive electronic music genres made largely for nightclubs, raves and festivals. It is generally produced for playback by disc jockeys who create seamless selections of tracks, called a mix by segueing from one recording to another. EDM producers also perform their music live in a concert or festival setting in what is sometimes called a live PA. In Europe, EDM is more commonly called 'dance music', or simply 'dance'.
The speed of a piece of music can also be gauged according to measures per minute (mpm) or bars per minute, the number of measures of the piece performed in one minute. This measure is commonly used in ballroom dance music.
In different musical contexts, different instrumental musicians, singers, conductors, bandleaders, music directors or other individuals will select the tempo of a song or piece. In a popular music or traditional music group or band, the bandleader or lead singer may select the tempo. In popular and traditional music, whoever is setting the tempo often counts out one or two bars in tempo. In some songs or pieces in which a singer or solo instrumentalist begins the work with a solo introduction (prior to the start of the full group), the tempo they set will provide the tempo for the group. In an orchestra or concert band, the conductor normally sets the tempo. In a marching band, the drum major may set the tempo. In a sound recording, in some cases a record producer may set the tempo for a song (although this would be less likely with an experienced bandleader).
In classical music it is customary to describe the tempo of a piece by one or more words, most commonly in Italian, in addition to or instead of a metronome mark in beats per minute. Italian is typically used because it was the language of most composers during the time these descriptions became commonplace.Some well-known Italian tempo indications include "Allegro", "Andante" and "Presto".This practice developed during the 17th and 18th centuries, the baroque and classical periods. In the earlier Renaissance music, performers understood most music to flow at a tempo defined by the tactus (roughly the rate of the human heartbeat). The mensural time signature indicated which note value corresponded to the tactus.
In the Baroque period, pieces would typically be given an indication, which might be a tempo marking (e.g. Allegro), or the name of a dance (e.g. Allemande or Sarabande), the latter being an indication both of tempo and of metre. Any musician of the time was expected to know how to interpret these markings based on custom and experience. In some cases, however, these markings were simply omitted. For example, the first movement of Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 has no tempo or mood indication whatsoever. Despite the increasing number of explicit tempo markings, musicians still observe conventions, expecting a minuet to be at a fairly stately tempo, slower than a Viennese waltz; a perpetuum mobile quite fast, and so on. Genres imply tempos. Thus, Ludwig van Beethoven wrote "In tempo d'un Menuetto" over the first movement of his Piano Sonata Op. 54, though that movement is not a minuet.
Many tempo markings also indicate mood and expression. For example, presto and allegro both indicate a speedy execution (presto being faster), but allegro also connotes joy (from its original meaning in Italian). Presto, on the other hand, simply indicates speed. Additional Italian words also indicate tempo and mood. For example, the "agitato" in the Allegro agitato of the last movement of George Gershwin's piano concerto in F has both a tempo indication (undoubtedly faster than a usual Allegro) and a mood indication ("agitated").
Often, composers (or music publishers) name movements of compositions after their tempo (or mood) marking. For instance, the second movement of Samuel Barber's first String Quartet is an Adagio.
Often a particular musical form or genre implies its own tempo, so composers need place no further explanation in the score.[ citation needed ] Popular music charts use terms such as bossa nova, ballad, and Latin rock in much the same way.[ original research? ] Lead sheets and fake book music for jazz or popular music may use several terms, and may include a tempo term and a genre term, such as "slow blues", "medium shuffle" or "fast rock".
Here follows a list of common tempo markings. The beats per minute (bpm) values are very rough approximations for 4
These terms have also been used inconsistently through time and in different geographical areas. One striking example is that Allegretto hastened as a tempo from the 18th to the 19th century: originally it was just above Andante, instead of just below Allegro as it is now.As another example, a modern largo is slower than an adagio, but in the Baroque period it was faster.
From slowest to fastest:
Several composers have written markings in French, among them baroque composers François Couperin and Jean-Philippe Rameau as well as Claude Debussy, Olivier Messiaen, Maurice Ravel and Alexander Scriabin. Common tempo markings in French are:
Erik Satie was known to write extensive tempo (and character) markings by defining them in a poetical and literal way, as in his Gnossiennes.
Many composers have used German tempo markings. Typical German tempo markings are:
One of the first German composers to use tempo markings in his native language was Ludwig van Beethoven. The one using the most elaborate combined tempo and mood markings was probably Gustav Mahler. For example, the second movement of his Symphony No. 9 is marked Im Tempo eines gemächlichen Ländlers, etwas täppisch und sehr derb, indicating a slowish folk-dance-like movement, with some awkwardness and much vulgarity in the execution. Mahler would also sometimes combine German tempo markings with traditional Italian markings, as in the first movement of his sixth symphony, marked Allegro energico, ma non troppo. Heftig, aber markig (Energetically quick, but not too much. Violent, but vigorous).
English indications, for example quickly, have also been used, by Benjamin Britten and Percy Grainger, among many others. In jazz and popular music lead sheets and fake book charts, terms like "fast", "laid back", "steady rock", "medium", "medium-up", "ballad", "brisk", "brightly" "up", "slowly", and similar style indications may appear. In some lead sheets and fake books, both tempo and genre are indicated, e.g., "slow blues", "fast swing", or "medium Latin". The genre indications help rhythm section instrumentalists use the correct style. For example, if a song says "medium shuffle", the drummer plays a shuffle drum pattern; if it says "fast boogie-woogie", the piano player plays a boogie-woogie bassline.
"Show tempo", a term used since the early days of Vaudeville, describes the traditionally brisk tempo (usually 160–170 bpm) of opening songs in stage revues and musicals.
Humourist Tom Lehrer uses facetious English tempo markings in his anthology Too Many Songs by Tom Lehrer. For example, "National Brotherhood Week" is to be played "fraternally"; "We Will All Go Together" is marked "eschatologically"; and "Masochism Tango" has the tempo "painstakingly".
Tempo is not necessarily fixed. Within a piece (or within a movement of a longer work), a composer may indicate a complete change of tempo, often by using a double bar and introducing a new tempo indication, often with a new time signature and/or key signature.
It is also possible to indicate a more or less gradual change in tempo, for instance with an accelerando (speeding up) or ritardando (rit., slowing down) marking. Indeed, some compositions chiefly comprise accelerando passages, for instance Monti's Csárdás, or the Russian Civil War song Echelon Song.
On the smaller scale, tempo rubato refers to changes in tempo within a musical phrase, often described as some notes 'borrowing' time from others.
Composers may use expressive marks to adjust the tempo:
While the base tempo indication (such as Allegro) typically appears in large type above the staff, adjustments typically appear below the staff or, in the case of keyboard instruments, in the middle of the grand staff.
They generally designate a gradual change in tempo; for immediate tempo shifts, composers normally just provide the designation for the new tempo. (Note, however, that when Più mosso or Meno mosso appears in large type above the staff, it functions as a new tempo, and thus implies an immediate change.) Several terms, e.g., assai, molto, poco, subito, control how large and how gradual a change should be (see common qualifiers).
After a tempo change, a composer may return to a previous tempo in two ways:
These terms also indicate an immediate, not a gradual, tempo change. Although they are Italian, composers tend to employ them even if they have written their initial tempo marking in another language.
20th-century classical music introduced a wide range of approaches to tempo, particularly thanks to the influence of modernism and later postmodernism.
While many composers have retained traditional tempo markings, sometimes requiring greater precision than in any preceding period, others have begun to question basic assumptions of the classical tradition like the idea of a consistent, unified, repeatable tempo. Graphic scores show tempo and rhythm in a variety of ways. Polytemporal compositions deliberately utilise performers playing at marginally different speeds. John Cage's compositions approach tempo in diverse ways. For instance 4′33″ has a defined duration, but no actual notes, while As Slow as Possible has defined proportions but no defined duration, with one performance intended to last 639 years.
More extreme tempos are achievable at the same underlying tempo with very fast drum patterns, often expressed as drum rolls. Such compositions often exhibit a much slower underlying tempo, but may increase the tempo by adding additional percussive beats. Extreme metal subgenres such as speedcore and grindcore often strive to reach unusually fast tempo. The use of extreme tempo was very common in the fast bebop jazz from the 1940s and 1950s. A common jazz tune such as "Cherokee" was often performed at quarter note equal to or sometimes exceeding 368 bpm. Some of Charlie Parker's famous tunes ("Bebop", "Shaw Nuff") have been performed at 380 bpm plus.[ citation needed ]
In popular music genres such as disco, house music and electronic dance music, beatmatching is a technique that DJs use that involves speeding up or slowing down a record (or CDJ player, a speed-adjustable CD player for DJ use) to match the tempo of a previous or subsequent track, so both can be seamlessly mixed. Having beatmatched two songs, the DJ can either seamlessly cross fade from one song to another, or play both tracks simultaneously, creating a layered effect.
DJs often beatmatch the underlying tempos of recordings, rather than their strict bpm value suggested by the kick drum, particularly when dealing with high tempo tracks. A 240 bpm track, for example, matches the beat of a 120 bpm track without slowing down or speeding up, because both have an underlying tempo of 120 quarter notes per minute. Thus, some soul music (around 75–90 bpm) mixes well with a drum and bass beat (from 150–185 bpm). When speeding up or slowing down a record on a turntable, the pitch and tempo of a track are linked: spinning a disc 10% faster makes both pitch and tempo 10% higher. Software processing to change the pitch without changing the tempo, or vice versa, is called time-stretching or pitch-shifting. While it works fairly well for small adjustments (± 20%), the result can be noisy and unmusical for larger changes.[ citation needed ]
A click track is a series of audio cues used to synchronize sound recordings, sometimes for synchronization to a moving image. The click track originated in early sound movies, where optical marks were made on the film to indicate precise timings for musical accompaniment. It can also serve a purpose similar to a metronome, as in the music industry, where it is often used during recording sessions and live performances.
The Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43, is a concertante work written by Sergei Rachmaninoff. It is written for solo piano and symphony orchestra, closely resembling a piano concerto, albeit in a single movement. The work was written at his summer home, the Villa Senar in Switzerland, according to the score, from July 3 to August 18, 1934. Rachmaninoff himself, a noted interpreter of his own works, played the solo piano part at the piece's premiere at the Lyric Opera House in Baltimore, Maryland, on November 7, 1934 with the Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted by Leopold Stokowski. Rachmaninoff, Stokowski, and the Philadelphia Orchestra made the first recording, on December 24, 1934, at RCA Victor's Trinity Church Studio in Camden, New Jersey.
This is a list of musical terms that are likely to be encountered in printed scores, music reviews, and program notes. Most of the terms are Italian, in accordance with the Italian origins of many European musical conventions. Sometimes, the special musical meanings of these phrases differ from the original or current Italian meanings. Most of the other terms are taken from French and German, indicated by "Fr." and "Ger.", respectively.
The Symphony No. 10 in E minor by Dmitri Shostakovich was premiered by the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra under Yevgeny Mravinsky on 17 December 1953, following the death of Joseph Stalin in March of that year. It is not clear when it was written: according to the composer's letters composition was between July and October 1953, but Tatiana Nikolayeva stated that it was completed in 1951. Sketches for some of the material date from 1946.
The String Quartet No. 13 in B♭ major, Op. 130, by Ludwig van Beethoven was completed in November 1826. The number traditionally assigned to it is based on the order of its publication; it is actually Beethoven's 14th quartet in order of composition. It was premiered in March 1826 by the Schuppanzigh Quartet and dedicated to Nikolai Galitzin on its publication in 1827.
Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 1 in C major, Op. 21, was dedicated to Baron Gottfried van Swieten, an early patron of the composer. The piece was published in 1801 by Hoffmeister & Kühnel of Leipzig. It is not known exactly when Beethoven finished writing this work, but sketches of the finale were found to be from 1795.
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Trio in A minor, Op. 50, was written in Rome between December 1881 and late January 1882. It is subtitled « À la mémoire d’un grand artiste » - In memory of a great artist, in reference to Nikolai Rubinstein, his close friend and mentor, who had died on 23 March 1881. It is scored for piano, violin, and cello.
Piano Concerto No. 4 in C minor, Op. 44 by Camille Saint-Saëns, is the composer's most structurally innovative piano concerto. In one sense it is structured like a four-movement symphony, but these are grouped in pairs. That is, the piece is divided into two parts, each of which combines two main movements. However, in each part there is a bridge-like transitional section, between the two main "movements" – for example, a fugal Andante in part II functions as an interlude between the two main triple-meter sections.
The Trio No. 1 in B-flat major for piano, violin, and cello, D. 898, was written by Franz Schubert in 1827. The composer finished the work in 1828, in the last year of his life. It was published in 1836 as Opus 99, eight years after the composer's death. Like the E-flat major trio, it is an unusually large scale work for piano trio, taking around 40 minutes in total to perform.
Sergei Prokofiev's Violin Sonata No. 2 in D Major, Op. 94a, was based on the composer's own Flute Sonata in D, Op. 94, written in 1942 but arranged for violin in 1943 when Prokofiev was living in Perm in the Ural Mountains, a remote shelter for Soviet artists during the Second World War. Prokofiev transformed the work into a violin sonata at the prompting of his close friend, the violinist David Oistrakh. It was premiered on 17 June 1944 by David Oistrakh and Lev Oborin.
Leonard Bernstein's Symphony No. 2 The Age of Anxiety is a piece for orchestra and solo piano. The piece was composed from 1948 to 1949 in the US and Israel, and was revised in 1965. It is titled after W. H. Auden's poem of the same name, and dedicated to Serge Koussevitzky.
The Cello Concerto of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is a conjectural work based in part on a 60-bar fragment found on the back of the rough draft for the last movement of the composer's Sixth Symphony, the Pathétique. In 2006, Ukrainian composer and cellist Yuriy Leonovich completed the work.
Variations on a Theme of Corelli, Op. 42, is set of variations for solo piano, written in 1931 by the Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff. He composed the variations at his holiday home in Switzerland.
Dmitry Kabalevsky's Preludes, Op. 38 are a set of 24 piano pieces in the Chopinian model, each based on a folksong and each in a different key. It was composed in 1943–44, and dedicated to Nikolai Myaskovsky, his teacher. It is one of a number of examples of music written in all 24 major and minor keys.
Tempo giusto is a musical term that means “in exact time”, often directing a return to strict time following a period of rubato. or to play in “strict time” or “suitable time”.
The String Quartet No. 2 in F major, Op. 22, by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, was composed between December 1873 and January 1874.
Fifteen Hungarian Peasant Songs, Sz. 71, BB 79 is a collection of short folk melodies arranged for piano by Hungarian composer Béla Bartók. It was composed between 1914 and 1918.
4 Pièces caractéristiques by Clara Schumann was composed between 1834 and 1836, and published in 1836. The entire work is labeled as opus 5, and is written for solo piano. The pieces are as follows.
3.2 The tempi for each dance shall be: Waltz 28‒30 bars/min, Tango 31‒33 bars/min, Viennese Waltz 58‒60 bars/min, Slow Foxtrot 28‒30 bars/min, Quickstep 50‒52 bars/min; Samba 50‒52 bars/min, Cha-Cha-Cha 30‒32 bars/min, Rumba 25‒27 bars/min, Paso Doble 60‒62 bars/min, Jive 42‒44 bars/min.
Books on tempo in music:
Examples of musical scores: