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.

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). Example: Chopin, Piano Sonata No. 2 'Funeral March', 1st mvt
  • Lento (very slowly, 40-60 BPM). Example: Beethoven String Quartet No. 16, 3rd mvt
  • Largo (slowly and broadly, 40-60 BPM). Example: Dvorak Symphony No. 9, 2nd mvt
  • Larghetto (fairly slow, 60-66 BPM)
  • Adagio (slowly, leisurely, 66-76 BPM)


  • Andante (walking pace, 76-108 BPM). Example: Mozart Symphony No. 40, 2nd mvt
  • Moderato (moderate or medium, 108-120 BPM)


  • Allegro (fast and bright, 120-156 BMP). Example: Vivaldi, Concerto for Two Cellos, 1st and 3rd mvts
  • Vivace (lively, 156-168 BPM)
  • Presto (very fast, 168-200 BPM).
  • Prestissimo (even faster, 200-208 BPM). Example: Beethoven, Piano Sonata No. 5, Finale

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