beats per minute

Learn about beats per minute, and how BPM is used and written in sheet music.

Metronome marks on sheet music, indicating tempo.
A BPM of 112 may be expressed with the terms moderato, allegro, or allegretto. Image © Brandy Kraemer

Definition of BPM:

Beats per minute (abbreviated BPM) is the number of times a beat is repeated in one minute. BPM expresses the tempo of a song, and is indicated in notation above the very first measure:

  1. As metronome marks:
    1. ♪=224*
    2. M.M.=112 (M.M. stands for “Maelzel's Metronome”)
  2. With tempo terms:
    1. Allegro means to play quickly, at about 112-160 BPM.

* The little music note in the metronome mark may be written in different note-lengths depending on which note-length holds the main beat. An eighth note marked with 224 BPM is the same as a quarter note marked with 112 BPM; learn why:

Continue With Rhythm & Tempo
  How to Read Time Signatures
  Learn About Simple & Compound Meter

● Grand Staff Notes Quiz
● Time Signature & Rhythm Quiz

Illustrated Piano Chords:
AbmajAbma7Abma9  | AbminAbm7Abm9  | AbdimAb°7  | AbaugAb+7  | Absus2Absus4