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Nuances in music: pace (Lesson 11)

the lessons : Nuances in music: pace (Lesson 11)

With this lesson, we will begin a series of classes devoted to various nuances in music.

What makes music really unique, unforgettable "> I hope everyone knows or realizes that composing music is not only writing a harmonious series of notes ... Music is also communication, composer communication with the performer, performer with listeners. Music is a kind of, an unusual speech by the composer and performer, with the help of which they reveal to the listeners all that is hidden in their souls. It is through the use of musical speech that they establish contact with the audience, gain their attention, evoke emo ionalny response on her part.

As in speech, in music the two main means of transmitting emotions are tempo (speed) and dynamics (volume). These are the two main tools that are used to turn clearly measured notes on the letter into a brilliant piece of music that will not leave anyone indifferent.

In this lesson we’ll talk about pace .

Pace in Latin means “time”, and when you hear someone talking about the pace of a piece of music, it means that the person has in mind the speed with which it should be performed.

The value of the tempo will become clearer if we recall the fact that initially the music was used as the musical accompaniment of the dance. And it was the movement of the legs of the dancers that set the pace of the music, and the musicians followed the dancers.

Since the invention of musical notation, composers have tried to find some way to clearly reproduce the pace at which recorded works should be performed. This was supposed to greatly simplify reading the notes of an unfamiliar piece of music. Over time, they noticed that each work has an internal ripple. And this ripple is different for each work. Like every person’s heart beats in different ways, at different speeds.

So, if we need to determine the pulse, we count the number of heart beats per minute. So in music - to record the speed of the pulsation began to record the number of shares per minute.

To help you understand what a meter is and how to determine it, I suggest you take a watch and stamp your foot every second. Do you hear? You tap one beat, or one bit per second. Now, looking at your watch, tap twice a second. Another ripple came out. The frequency with which you stamp your foot is called the pace ( or meter ). For example, when you stamp your foot once a second, the pace is 60 bits per minute, because in a minute, as we know, 60 seconds. We stomp twice a second, and the pace is already 120 bits per minute.

In a musical recording, it looks something like this:

This designation tells us that a quarter note is taken for the pulsation unit, and this pulsation occurs at a frequency of 60 beats per minute.

Here is another example:

Here, a quarter duration is also taken as a unit of pulsation, but the pulsation speed is twice as fast - 120 beats per minute.

There are other examples when the pulsation unit is taken not in the fourth, but in the eighth or half duration, or some other ... Here are a few examples:


In this version, the song “A little Christmas tree is cold in winter” will sound twice as fast as the first option, as the unit of meter is taken two times shorter - instead of the fourth, the eighth.

Such tempo designations are most often found in modern notes. Composers of past eras used mostly a verbal description of the tempo. Even today, the same terms are used to describe tempo and speed of execution as they were then. These are Italian words, because when they came into use, the bulk of the music in Europe was composed by Italian composers.

Below are the most common tempo symbols in music. In brackets, for convenience and a more complete picture of the tempo, the approximate number of beats per minute for a given tempo is given, because many have no idea how fast or how slowly this or that tempo should sound.

  • Grave - (grave) - the slowest pace (40 bpm)
  • Largo - (largo) - very slow (44 bpm)
  • Lento - (Lento) - Slow (52 bpm)
  • Adagio - (adagio) - slowly, calmly (58 bpm)
  • Andante - (andante) - leisurely (66 bpm)
  • Andantino - (andantino) - leisurely (78 bpm)
  • Moderato - (moderato) - moderately (88 beats / min)
  • Allegretto - (Allegretto) - pretty fast (104 bpm)
  • Allegro - (Allegro) - fast (132 bpm)
  • Vivo - (vivo) - lively (160 bpm)
  • Presto - (Presto) - very fast (184 bpm)
  • Prestissimo - (Prestissimo) - extremely fast (208 bpm)


However, the pace does not necessarily indicate how quickly or slowly the play should be performed. The tempo also sets the general mood of the play: for example, music played very, very slowly, at the grave tempo, evokes the deepest melancholy, but the same music, if performed very, very quickly, at the prestissimo tempo, will seem incredibly joyful and bright to you. Sometimes, to clarify the nature, composers use such additions to the tempo designations:

  • leggiero - easy
  • cantabile - melodious
  • dolce - gently
  • mezzo voce - in half voices
  • sonore - sonically (not to be confused with a scream)
  • lugubre - grim
  • pesante - hard, weighty
  • funebre - funeral, funeral
  • festivo - holiday (festival)
  • quasi rithmico - emphasized (exaggerated) rhythmically
  • misterioso - mysteriously

Such remarks are written not only at the beginning of the work, but can also appear inside it.

To confuse you a little more, let's say that in combination with the tempo designations, auxiliary adverbs are sometimes used to clarify the shades:

  • molto - very,
  • assai - quite,
  • con moto - with mobility, commodo - comfortable,
  • non troppo - not too much
  • non tanto - not so much
  • semper - all the time
  • meno mosso - less mobile
  • piu mosso - more mobile.

For example, if the tempo of a piece of music is roso allegro (poco allegro), then this means that the play needs to be played “rather briskly”, and rozo largo (poco largo) will mean “rather slowly”.

Sometimes individual musical phrases in a play are played at a different pace; this is done to give a more expressive musical composition. Below are a few notations for the tempo change that you may encounter in musical notation:

To slow down:

  • ritenuto - holding back,
  • ritardando - late
  • allargando - expanding,
  • rallentando - slowing down

To speed up:

  • accelerando - accelerating
  • animando - inspiring
  • stringendo - speeding up
  • stretto - squeezed, squeezing

To return movement to its original pace, the following notation applies:

  • a tempo - at a pace
  • tempo primo - initial pace
  • tempo I - initial pace,
  • l'istesso tempo - the same pace.

In the end, I’ll tell you that you are not afraid of so much information that you can not memorize these notations for memory. There are many guides to this terminology.

Before playing a piece of music, you just need to pay attention to the tempo designation, and look for its translation in the directory. But, of course, first you need to learn a work at a very slow pace, and then play it at a given pace, taking into account all the remarks throughout the work.

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