Different pieces of music are composed with different tempos (or speeds) in mind, and moderato (meaning ‘moderate’ or ‘medium’) is right at the centre of all of them. A little faster than andante (described as walking pace) but not as fast as allegro (usually described as fast and merry), moderato has a nice, steady tempo.

Tempos are measured in beats per minute (BPM) and indicate how quickly or slowly a piece of music should be played. Moderato typically falls between 108-120 BPM on a metronome. Sometimes the exact BPM is included on a score – for example, you might see the word moderato followed by a note symbol and then ‘= 120’.

Examples of moderato music

Classical pieces played with a moderato tempo include Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring; Tchaikovsky’s Chant de l’Alouette (Song of the Lark), and the Minuet from Mozart’s Don Giovanni. Listening to these should give you a good idea of what a moderato tempo sounds like.