What Does Allegro Mean in Music? Meaning & Examples (2023)

Music can evoke a number of emotionsthat range from joy to amusement, hope, eroticism, sadness, and even stress and anxiety.

This is why we choose a special playlist for the gym to help us feel pumped up and another for those romantic candle-lit dinners.

The most influential factor that affects how the music feels is related to its tempo. So what does allegro mean in music?

Allegro refers to the fast and lively tempo, which makes the music bright and uplifting. Keep on reading to learn more about allegro, how it’s used in music, and how it makes us feel.

What Does Allegro Mean in Music? Meaning & Examples (1)

What Does Allegro Mean in Music?

Allegro is the Italian word for lively or cheerfuland is used in music to indicate a musical piece that is joyful and uplifting. It’s not as fast as presto and is a little faster than allegretto.

These terms indicate the speed or tempo of several movements of the music piece. The instructions for playing the music usually set the tempo or speed.

Manipulating the tempo or speed is a common way of creating coversfor several songs and music pieces. In addition, it can be a way to play a song in a different genre.

The speed of allegro is usually between 120 and 156 BPM. Other subgenres of allegro include molto allegro, which is slightly fasterbut is still within the range between 124 and 156 BPM.

This means that a music piece played in allegro will include a little bit more than 2 beats per second.

Allegro also refers to the mood and expression of music. Both Allegro and Presto indicate a speedy execution of the music piece, as presto means faster.

(Video) In Music, What Does “Allegro” Mean?

However, allegro suggests that the performance is joyful, cheerful, and lively. Presto, on the other hand, refers to the speed of the performancewithout indicating that it’s joyful music.

Allegro is probably the most common tempo markingused in music. Allegro moderatois another common tempo marking, which has a speed between 112 and 124 BPM. So, it’s slightly slower than allegro.

What Does Allegro Mean in Music? Meaning & Examples (2)

Allegretto also refers to a moderately fast tempo markingthat is still slower than allegro.

Allegro is usually referred to as the heart rate tempo, so it’s a favorite among musical composers.

The average human heartbeats rateis between 60 and 100, but during workouts and other physically strenuous activities, the rate can increase to 120 and even 130 heartbeats per minute.

Most allegro performances are played at the same tempo, as they range between 120 and 130 BPM. This is why these musical pieces usuallyevoke positive emotions and significantly impact the performers and the listeners.

How to Indicate that This Musical Piece is Played in Allegro?

Allegro is a base tempo indication, which sets the speed for the entire movement or performance. The word allegro is written above the staffto indicate the speed at which the performers will play the music.

Since tempo isn’t necessarily fixed, the composer can make a few adjustments by adding a new tempo.

For example, in the middle of the performance or movement, the composer woulduse a double bar to indicate the change in tempo and add the new indication.

In some cases, the musician will indicate a gradual changein the tempo by writing the indication under the staff. When keyboard instruments play the notes, any adjustments in the tempo indication will be written in the middle of the grand staff.

Accelerando refers to speeding up the tempo, while ritardando refers to slowing down the tempo. Some music pieces like Monti’s Csárdásare entirely made of accelerando passages. In the case of accelerando, the tempo is slightly increased until the next tempo mark.

Affrettando is another tempo marking that indicates a faster speed, but it introduces a feeling of anxiety and discomfort, which is different from allegro, which suggests joyfulness and cheerfulness.

What is Tempo in Music?

What Does Allegro Mean in Music? Meaning & Examples (3)

(Video) Allegro, Andante, A Tempo - Music Dictionary for Beginners 2

Tempo is the Italian wordfor time and refers to the speed or pace of a music piece. In classical music, the tempo was indicated with an instruction set at the start of the piece. After that, it was measured in beats per minute or BPM.

In modern music, the metronome markis used to set the tempo in classical compositions. In other genres like pop or EDM, the tempo will be stated in BPM.

Tempo is combined with meter and articulation to create the texture of the music. A musician or singer should hold the tempo steadily throughout the performance, although it’s changeable and can be manipulated from one performance to another.

The tempo can be played with slight or drastic variances based on the musicians’ interpretations, the conductor’s indication, or can be controlled by one of the instrumentalists, especially the drummer.

During the 19thcentury, the metronome was inventedby Johann Nepomuk Maelzel, and Beethoven published the indication of all the symphonies he composed during the 1810s.

During the 20thcentury, a new method was used to determine the tempo of the music piece. The composer would specify the total playing time for a piece, and the performers would derive the tempo and play the music accordingly.

Tempo can also be measured in measures per minute or MPM. This refers to the number of measures of the piece performed in a single minute, and this method is used to measure tempo in ballroom dance music.

Tempo is usually expressed in Italianin classical music because most of the composers who composed classical music during the classical period were Italian or spoke the language.

What Does Allegro Mean in Music? Meaning & Examples (4)

Before the Baroque and Classical periods, composers and musicians of the Renaissance period understood that music flows according to a tempothat is defined by the tactus of the human heartbeat.

In Mensural Notation, musicians used the meter signature to indicate the number of beats included in each bar, where each beat corresponds to a note value.

Using the modern tempo expressions became popular during the Baroque period. Musicians were expected to understand and interpret these markings and used their experience to manipulate the tempo to execute and deliver the performance.

In some cases, composers would omit or discard tempo markings. In this case, the performers would rely on their own experience and personal interpretation to play the music at the correct tempo.

For example, the first movement of the Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 by Bachcontains no indication of tempo or speed. In this case, the performers would depend on their level of experience to be able to determine the speed at which the notes are played.

(Video) What is the meaning of the word ALLEGRO?

Because the tempo of the music will greatly affect the nature and emotional impact of the music performance, some composers would name their music compositionsbased on the tempo. For example, the Introduction and Allegro for Strings by Elgar.

In some cases, the tempo isn’t mentioned or indicated, but it’simplied based on the nature of the musical form or the music genre itself.

For example, speedcore has the fastest tempoamong different music genres. The music rarely has a BPM lower than 300.

Some tracks have a tempo of more than 1000 BMPand are known as Extratone, while others exceed 1 million BMP and are known as Hypertone.

What Does Allegro Mean in Music? Meaning & Examples (5)

Other genres likejazz are extremely versatile. They can be played in very slow tempos as ballads or fast in burning jazz.

Fast tempos aren’t restricted to metal music. Some of the old jazz performances were played in very fast tempos. For example, Cherokeeis a jazz song that was performed by Ray Noble at 368 BPM.

In some cases, a description is added to facilitate the job of the performers when they’re deciding on the right tempo for the performance. For example, fast rock and medium jazz refer to the tempothat the musicians should follow while playing a specific piece.

Why Is Tempo Important in Music?

Tempo is one of the main parameters that define the music texture, in addition to harmony, melody, rhythm, dynamics, and lyrics.

It’s a precise measure that sets the differences between various music genresand can affect the emotions that the music evokes.

In modern music genres, DJs use the tempo for beatmatching, which refers to accelerating or slowing down the tempo to match the tempo of a previous or subsequent track.

Thanks to beatmatching, a DJ can seamlessly blend two tracks together for a smooth transition or to create a layered effect. In this case, the DJ would pay attention to the underlying tempo of the recording rather than the value of the BMP.

In classical music compositions, different tempos are used by conductors to set the difference between a performance by an ensemble and another.

In other musical contexts, musicians, singers, music directors, and bandleaders will choose the tempo based on the setting.

(Video) Definition of the word "Allegro"

For example, the drummer or bandleader can choose the tempoin modern music. They will count one or two bars in tempo and set the speed of the whole piece.

A singer or a soloist begins the performance with a solo introduction that sets the tempofor the rest of the group throughout the performance. In some cases, during recording sessions, the record producer will be the one setting the tempo for a song.

What is BPM?

What Does Allegro Mean in Music? Meaning & Examples (6)

Beats per minuteor BPM is one of the units used to measure tempoand set the speed of a musical performance.

By assigning a numerical value to the beats played per minute, the performers are able to set the speed and pace for the performance. The beat corresponds to the time signature in the notation.

Thebeat corresponds to a quarter note when the time signature has four on the bottom, like 2/4 or 5/4.

In a 2/4 time signature,every two beats will take you through a whole measure. In a 5/4 time signature, every five beats will take you through a whole measure.

Thebeat corresponds to an eighth note when the time signature has eight on the bottom, like 3/8 or 6/8. In this case, 8 of the eighth notes make up a whole measure.

So in a time signature of 3/8, 3 beats will take you through the whole measure. In a time signature of 6/8, 6 beats will take you through the whole signature.

Paying attention to the BPM sets not only the mood for the music but also affects its purpose. For example, when the music is played for a film score, the wrong or imprecise tempo can affect how the music aligns with the scene, which might cause confusion. ‘

The BPM number will also change the genre or nature of the musical composition. Some pieces can be performed in different tempos based on the genre.

Which Music Pieces have the Fastest Tempo?

What Does Allegro Mean in Music? Meaning & Examples (7)

There are several classical and modern music pieces and songsthat are known for having impressively fast tempos.

  • Waltz in D-flat major by Chopin isone of the fastest classical performances. The piece has a tempo marking of molto vivace or very lively. It usually takes between 1 and a half to 2 and a half minutes to be played, although some pianists attempt to play it faster.
  • Hollaback Girl by Gwen Stefani is a hip-hop songwith a tempo that reaches about 110 BPM.
  • Flight of the Bumblebee by Rimsky Korsakov was written to entertain the audience between acts of The Tale of Tsar Saltan operabut is now widely known for its fast tempo and has been featured in various movies. The original tempo of the piece is set to be94 BPM, but it can also be played at 188 BPM.
  • Thousand is a techno songby Moby and is listed by the Guinness World Records as the world’s fastest tempo for a released single, with a tempo that reaches about 1015 BPM.
  • Get This Party Started by P!nk has atempo of 129 BPM. It belongs to thedance-pop genreand is played in a single chord.
  • Concerto for 2 Cellos in G Minor by Vivaldi is made up of three movements, allegro, largo, and allegro. The average tempo of this piece is 81 BPM.
(Video) How to Listen to Classical Music: Sonata Form


What is the meaning of allegro in the music? ›

: at a brisk lively tempo —used as a direction in music.

What is the meaning of allegro answer? ›

There are many Italian musical terms that describe or direct the tempo, or speed, of the music, and allegro is one of these. The word means "cheerful or gay" in Italian from the Latin root alacrem, "lively, cheerful, or brisk." Definitions of allegro. adverb. in a quick and lively tempo.

What is example of allegro in music? ›

The definition of an allegro is a portion of the music that moves quickly. An example of an allegro is the third movement of Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 8. (music) A tempo mark directing that a passage is to be played in a quick, lively tempo, faster than allegretto but slower than presto.

How is allegro used in music? ›

Allegro is the Italian word for lively or cheerful and is used in music to indicate a musical piece that is joyful and uplifting. It's not as fast as presto and is a little faster than allegretto. These terms indicate the speed or tempo of several movements of the music piece.

How do you use allegro in a sentence? ›

The dance is a brisk allegro in 2/4 time in a major key. This example is from Wikipedia and may be reused under a CC BY-SA license. The first movement is a sonata-allegro movement that is concise, with an economy of materials.

Why is allegro used? ›

Allegro is a tempo marking for classical music. It says that the music is to be played moderately fast. At first, it was also used to describe the character of a piece, but since the 18th century, it is mainly used for the speed. It is faster than Andante, but slower than Presto.

Who created allegro? ›

Allegro was a musical created by famous Broadway duo Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein.

What does allegro mean in Greek? ›

Tempo Mark Indicating A Quick, Lively Tempo.

Is allegro a classical music? ›

Examples of allegro

From the first movement of Mozart's Sonata in C Major to the fourth movement of Pescetti's Sonata No 8 in C, there are plenty of examples of classical pieces played with an allegro tempo.

What are the musical terms? ›

Music Term Definitions
  • Crescendo (cresc): Gradually increase the volume.
  • Decrescendo (decresc. ): Gradually softer.
  • Diminuendo (dim. ...
  • Forte (f): Strong or loud.
  • Fortepiano (fp): Loud then immediately soft.
  • Fortissimo (ff): Very strong or loud.
  • Mezzo: medium or moderately (as in mezzo piano or mezzo soprano)
  • Morendo: Die away.

What does adagio mean in music? ›

Definition of adagio

(Entry 1 of 2) : at a slow tempo —used chiefly as a direction in music. adagio. noun.

What is the meaning of andante in music? ›

Definition of andante

(Entry 1 of 2) : moderately slow —usually used as a direction in music. andante. noun.

Is andante fast or slow? ›

Andante – at a walking pace (76–108 bpm) Andantino – slightly faster than andante (although, in some cases, it can be taken to mean slightly slower than andante) (80–108 bpm)

How fast is Adagio? ›

Adagio means to play slowly, calmly, and at ease, and with an average speed of around 70 BPM. * Adagio is faster than lento but slower than andante. The term adagio translates to "slowly."

What does vivace tempo mean? ›

“play this section vivace!” adjective. (of tempo) very fast and lively. Synonyms: fast. at a rapid tempo.

What does Dolce mean in music? ›

Definition of dolce

: soft, smooth —used as a direction in music.

What does a legato mean in music? ›

: in a manner that is smooth and connected (as between successive tones) —used especially as a direction in music. legato. noun. Definition of legato (Entry 2 of 2) : a smooth and connected manner of performance (as of music) also : a passage of music so performed.


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