110. Innumerable combinations of the words defined in Sec. 109 with one
another and with other words occur. Some of these combinations with
their approximate meanings follow. The meaning of any such expression
not found in the list may usually be arrived at by consulting the terms
defined in paragraph 109 and recalling the use of certain auxiliary
terms quoted in Chapter IX.
Largo assai--very slow.
Largo di molto--very slow.
Largo ma non troppo--slow, but not too slow.
Largo un poco--slow, but not so slow as largo. (Cf.
Lentando--with increasing slowness.
Tres lentement--very slowly.
Lento assai--very slowly.
Lento a capriccio--slowly but capriciously.
Lento di molto--very slowly.
Andante affettuoso--moderately slow, and with tenderness and
pathos. [Transcriber's Note: Corrected error affetuoso in
Andante amabile--moderately slow, and lovingly.
Andante cantabile--moderately slow, and in singing style.
Andante grazioso--moderately slow, and gracefully.
Andante maestoso--moderately slow, and majestically.
Andante con moto--slightly faster than andante.
Andante (ma) non troppo--not too slowly.
Andante pastorale--moderately slow, and in simple and
unaffected style; (lit. rural, pastoral).
Andante quasi allegro--almost as rapid in tempo as
allegro; (lit. an andante in the style of allegro).
Andante sostenuto--moderately slow and sustained.
Allegrissimo--much faster than allegro. (The superlative
degree of allegro.)
Allegro agitato--a moderately rapid tempo, and in agitated
Allegro appassionata--a moderately rapid tempo, and in
Allegro assai (very allegro)--faster than allegro.
Allegro commodo--a conveniently rapid tempo.
Allegro con brio--an allegro played in brilliant style.
Faster than allegro.
Allegro con fuoco--an allegro played with fire, i.e.,
with extreme animation. Faster than allegro.
Allegro con spirito--an allegro performed with spirit.
Allegro con moto--faster than allegro.
Allegro di bravura--an allegro performed in brilliant
style, i.e., demanding great skill in execution.
Allegro furioso (furiously)--quicker than allegro; very
Allegro giusto--an allegro movement, but in exact rhythm.
Allegro ma grazioso--an allegro played in graceful style.
Allegro (ma) non tanto--an allegro movement, but not too
Allegro (ma) non troppo--an allegro movement, but not too
Allegro (ma) non presto--an allegro movement, but not too
Allegro moderato--slower than allegro.
Allegro vivace--faster than allegro.
Presto assai--as rapidly as possible.
Presto (ma) non troppo--a presto movement, but not too
111. There are certain terms which indicate a modification of the
normal tempo of a movement, these being divided into two classes, (a)
those terms which indicate in general a slower tempo, and (b) those
which indicate in general a more rapid tempo. The further subdivisions
of these two classes are shown below.
(a) Terms indicating a slower tempo.
1. Terms indicating a gradual retard.
Ritenente, (rit.), ritenuto (rit.), ritardando
(rit.), rallentando (rall.), slentando.
2. Terms indicating a tempo which is to become definitely
slower at once.
Piu lento (lit. more slowly), meno mosso (lit. less
3. Terms indicating a slower tempo combined with an increase
Largando, allargando. These words are both derived from
largo, meaning large, broad.
(For terms indicating both slower tempo and softer tone, see page 59,
The student should note the difference between groups 1 and 2
as given above: the terms in group 1 indicate that each
measure, and even each pulse in the measure, is a little
slower than the preceding one, while such terms as piu lento
and meno mosso indicate a rate of speed becoming instantly
slower and extending over an entire phrase or passage. Some
composers (e.g., Beethoven and Couperin) have evidently had
this same distinction in mind between rallentando and
ritardando on the one hand, and ritenuto and ritenente
on the other, considering the former (rall. and rit.) to
indicate a gradually slackening speed, and the latter
(ritenuto and ritenente) to indicate a definitely slower
rate. The majority of composers do not however differentiate
between them in this way, and it will therefore hardly be
worth while for the student to try to remember the
(b) Terms indicating a more rapid tempo.
1. Terms indicating a gradual acceleration.
Accelerando, affrettando [Transcriber's Note: Corrected
misspelling affretando in original] (this term implies some
degree of excitement also), stringendo, poco a poco
2. Terms indicating a tempo which is to become definitely
faster at once.
Piu allegro, piu tosto, piu mosso, stretto, un poco
112. After any modification in tempo (either faster or slower) has been
suggested it is usual to indicate a return to the normal rate by some
such expression as a tempo (lit. in time), a tempo primo (lit. in
the first time), tempo primo, or tempo.
113. Tempo rubato (or a tempo rubato) means literally in robbed
time, i.e., duration taken from one measure or beat and given to
another, but in modern practice the term is quite generally applied to
any irregularity of rhythm or tempo not definitely indicated in the
The terms ad libitum, (ad lib.), a piacere, and a capriccio,
also indicate a modification of the tempo at the will of the performer.
Ad libitum means at liberty; a piacere, at pleasure; and a
capriccio, at the caprice (of the performer).
114. The term tempo giusto is the opposite of tempo rubato (and of
the other terms defined in paragraph 113). It means literally in exact
time. (Tempo giusto is sometimes translated quite rapidly, but
this is very unusual.)
[Footnote 29: Bussler--Elements of Notation and Harmony, p. 76.]
115. L'istesso tempo means--at the same rate of speed. E.g., when a
measure signature changes from 2/4 to 6/8 with a change in beat-note
from a quarter to a dotted-quarter, but with the same tempo carried
through the entire movement.
116. Tenuto (ten.) indicates that a tone or chord is to be held to
its full value. This word is sometimes used after a staccato passage to
show that the staccato effect is to be discontinued, but is often used
merely as a warning not to slight a melody-tone--i.e., to give it its
117. Veloce means--swiftly, and is applied to brilliant passages
(e.g., cadenzas) which are to be played as rapidly as possible without
much regard for measure rhythm. The words rapidamente, brillante and
volante (flying) have the same meaning as veloce.
118. The following expressions referring to tempo are also in common
use but cannot easily be classified with any of the groups already
Con moto--with motion; i.e., not too slow.
Doppio movimento--twice as rapid as before.
Tempo ordinario--in ordinary tempo.
Tempo commodo--in convenient tempo.
Sempre lento malinconico assai--always slowly and in a very
Animando, animato, con anima--with animation.
119. Tempo di marcia is given by Riemann (Dictionary of Music, p. 783)
as equivalent to andante, M.M. 72-84. The same writer gives tempo di
menuetto as equivalent to allegretto, and tempo di valso as
equivalent to allegro moderato (which he regards as indicating a more
rapid tempo than allegretto).