Tempo Names

I’ve always wondered what exactly makes a piece, say, “allegro.” So, I used a metronome app to figure it out! [Try the Calculator]

  1. Larghissimo, 10–19 bpm: The lowest tempo, for all lower tempos are unnamed. Adds Italian superlative suffix “-issimo” to “Largo.” (see 4)
  2. Grave, 20–40 bpm: Not unlike the English, “grave” as in, “grave importance.”
  3. Lento, 41–45 bpm: From Italian for “slow.”
  4. Largo, 46–50 bpm: Related to the English, “large.” Related in that the spaces of the tempo are “large.”
  5. Larghetto, 51–55 bpm: Uses a diminutive form of Largo. (see 4)
  6. Adagio, 56–65 bpm: Simply meaning, “slow.” Comes from “ad” and “agio,” meaning “at ease.”
  7. Adagietto, 66–69 bpm: Adds Italian diminutive suffix, “-etto” to “Adagio.” (see 6)
  8. Andante moderato, 70–72 bpm: Adds “moderato” (meaning, of course, moderate) to “Adante.” (see 9)
  9. Andante, 73–77 bpm: From Italian for “walking.” Reference to how the tempo is around walking pace.
  10. Andantino, 78–83 bpm: From Italian diminutive form of “Andante.” (see 9)
  11. Marcia moderato, 84–85 bpm:Marcia” is Italian for “march” or “speedwalking.” Combined with “moderato.” Reference to the similar Andante. (see 9)
  12. Moderato, 86–97 bpm: From Italian for “moderate.”
  13. Allegretto, 98–109 bpm: Adds Italian diminutive suffix “-etto” to “Allegro.” (see 14)
  14. Allegro, 110–132 bpm: From Italian for “lively” and “cheerful.”
  15. Vivace, 133–140 bpm: From Italian for “lively” and “vigorous.”
  16. Vivacissimo, 141–150 bpm: Adds Italian superlative suffix “-issimo” to “Vivace.” (see 15)
  17. Allegrissimo, 151–167 bpm: Adds Italian superlative suffix “-issimo” to “Allegro.” (see 14)
  18. Presto, 168–177 bpm: From Italian for “fast” and “quick.”
  19. Prestissimo, 178–500 bpm: Adds Italian superlative suffix “-issimo” to “Presto.” (see 18)


Further Reading

Glossary of Tempo Markings Used in Classical Music

Tempo Names on Wikipedia

This webpage was originally published 18 October 2020 and was last modified 28 April 2020.