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You are HERE >> Music : General

Elements of Music Notation : Time Terms and Definitions
by Elaine Ernst Schneider 
October 11,  2001

Alphabetical Definitions

Example Sheet Music and Midi files from and

accelerando quickening, getting faster little by little
adagio very slow Bach
Jesu, bleibet meine freude
allegro fast, cheerful Beethoven
Ode To Joy
andante moderate Bizet; Habanera
a tempo return to previous time
common time 4/4 time, quadruple meter Grieg; In the Hall of the Mountain King
Mendelssohn; Wedding March
duple meter 2 beats to a meter
grave extremely slow and solemn
largo very slow Chopin; Funeral March
presto very fast Joplin; The Entertainer
ritardando gradually getting slower
rubato flexible time
tempo rate or speed of the music
tempo di marcia or alla marcia marching Tchaikovsky March of the Nutcracker
vivace a lively tempo Traditonal French Alouette
Vivaldi Spring
Traditional Isreali Hava Nagila
waltz time 3/4 time Strauss Blue Danube
Wahlteufel Skater's Waltz
Traditional Greensleeves

By Time


grave:  extremely slow and solemn (funeral, graveside)

largo: very slow (giants dragging their feet)

adagio:  very slow

ritardando: gradually getting slower 

andante:  moderate

rubato: flexible time 

vivace: a lively tempo (vivacious)

allegro:  fast, cheerful

presto: very fast (A magician's hands are quicker than the eye)

As the time becomes faster, the notes tend to become shorter and the rests fewer. 
As the time becomes slower, notes are held longer with rests and pauses more pronounced.


Printable Wordsearch Puzzles: Time and Tone Vocabulary
Worksheet Number 1
Worksheet Number 2
Submitted by:  © Elaine Ernst Schneider  is a freelance writer and a teacher. She has been writing since high school and has published articles, songs, and children's work. Presently, Elaine is a curriculum author for Group Publishing and also writes the City Songs column for ezine. 
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