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Tempo

The speed at which a Tune is played or a Song is sung. In Folk, precise tempo or 'strict tempo' is not usually needed. Appropriate Tempo is often arrived at from dancers - what is comfortable to dance to for a particular group. Beginners may take things more slowly than experienced dancers.

Note that tempo is merely the pace and is different from the Rhythm which is about accents and timing. For example, a Waltz is danced to the rhythm 1,2,3 - 1,2,3 - 1,2,3 etc. with an accent on the first beat but it may be played and danced slowly or quickly.

There are terms for describing tempo, but as the folk tradition is not a written one, it is not common to see music with tempo written out as would be an orchestral piece. Actual tempo can be described numerically as the number of beats per minute (bpm) which can be used to set a metronome.

Some Common Terms:

  • Presto - Very Fast
  • Allegro - Fast and Bright
  • Moderato - Moderately Fast
  • Adante - At Walking Pace
  • Adagio - Slow and Stately
  • Lento - Very Slow