Rhythm & Tempo
Tempo commands specify the tempo of a song, and are written above the very first staff in sheet music. They are expressed in at least one of the following ways:
- As metronome marks, followed by the number of beats per minute (BPM):
- ♪=140 *
However, in the image above, a quarter note is the main beat; so the tempo would be twice as fast as that of the text example (140 quarter-note BPMs = 280 eighth-note BPMs).
So what determines which note length is written in the metronome mark? Generally, you go by the bottom number of the time signature: In 4/4 or 2/4 time, the quarter note is the main beat; in 6/8 or 9/8, the beat falls on the eighth note.
- As a word description (often in Italian), sometimes accompanied by an expression command:
Continue With Tempo:
► Learn More Tempo Terms & Symbols
► Test Yourself on Tempo Terms & Rhythm
See More Musical Symbols:
■Staff & Barlines ■Note Lengths ■Articulation Marks ■Repeat Signs
■The Grand Staff ■Dotted Notes ■Dynamics & Volume ■Segno & Coda Signs
■Time Signatures ■Accidentals ■Key Signatures ■Pedal Marks
■Tempo Commands ■Piano Chords ■Music Rests ■8va & Octave Commands