Multilingual Tempo Commands & BPM

metronome and music notes
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Tempo, or the speed of a song, is marked at the beginning of notation and may be written using different methods. For example, you will often see numbers next to a small music note (♩ = 70) that indicate an exact BPM (beats per minute); or, you'll find it expressed in word form.

These words tend to be Italian, and they correspond to a BPM. This list will show you the most common Italian tempo commands organized by their speed, and give you other common synonyms you are likely to encounter in piano music.

Italian BPM French German
larghissimo < 40 extrêmement large sehr breit
solenne / grave 40 grave schwer
largo 42 - 66 large / largement breit
lentissimo < 48 très lent sehr langsam
adagissimo 52 lentement modéré sehr ruhig
lento 52 - 68 lent langsam
larghetto 56 - 64 assez large etwas breit
adagio 60 - 80 (66-76 )* à l'aise gemächlich
adagietto 68 - 76 assez vite ziemlich ruhig
tranquillo 80 tranquil ruhig
andante 80 - 100 (76-108 )* allant gehend
moderato 88 - 112 modéré mässig
allegretto 100 - 128 assez vite ein wenig schnell
allegro 112 - 160 allègre / vite fröhlich / lustig
vivace 140 vif lebhaft
presto 140 - 200 (168-208 )* rapide sehr schnell
allegrissimo 168 très vite geschwind
vivacissimo 200 extrêmement vif sehr rasch
prestissimo 188 - 220 très rapide äusserst schnell

* traditional metronome BPM

Speed-Changing Tempo Commands

Italian Meaning French German
accelerando gradual speed-up accélérez beschleunigend
ritardando gradual slow-down retardez verzögernd
allargando widen & slow the beats en élargissant verbreiternd
rallentando gradual, rolling stop ralentissez verlangsamend
tempo primo back to original tempo au mouvement Hauptzeitmass

Other Common Tempo Commands

Italian Meaning French German
tempo giusto keep strict tempo mouvement exact im angemessenen Zeitmass
a piacere ad lib.; rhythm at player's will à volonté nach Gefallen
alla breve in cut-time à la blanche Takt in Halben Noten