Tempo is a term used to refer to the speed or pace of a piece of music. For example, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee has a faster tempo than Chopin’s Funeral March

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Tempo shouldn’t be confused with a piece’s time signature, which indicates how many beats are included in a bar, whereas tempo indicates how fast or slow those beats should be.

Tempos are measured in beats per minute (BPM). Working from the slowest to the fastest, here’s a quick guide to the different tempos used in classical music and the typical BPM ranges they fall within on a metronome.

The different tempo speeds

  • Grave (very slowly and solemnly, 20-40 BPM)
  • Lento (very slowly, 40-60 BPM)
  • Largo (slowly and broadly, 40-60 BPM)
  • Larghetto (fairly slow, 60-66 BPM)
  • Adagio (slowly, leisurely, 66-76 BPM)
  • Andante (walking pace, 76-108 BPM)
  • Moderato (moderate or medium, 108-120 BPM)
  • Allegro (fast and bright, 120-156 BMP)
  • Vivace (lively, 156-168 BPM)
  • Presto (very fast, 168-200 BPM)
  • Prestissimo (even faster, 200-208 BPM)
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