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)

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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 14 March 2020.