A TEMPO Meaning and Definition

A tempo is an Italian musical term that is commonly used in the field of music to indicate that the performer should return to the previous speed or tempo of a composition. It is often represented by the markings "a tempo" or "tempo primo" in sheet music.

The term "a tempo" literally translates to "at the tempo" in English, suggesting that the performer should resume playing at the original speed or pace of the music. This instruction is typically given after a temporary deviation from the established tempo, such as during a rallentando (gradual slowing down) or accelerando (gradual speeding up) passage.

When the indication "a tempo" is encountered, it serves as a signal for the musician to revert to the initial tempo, ensuring a smooth and consistent flow of the music. This term is especially significant in ensemble performances, as it helps musicians synchronize their playing and maintain a unified tempo throughout the piece.

In addition to its practical significance in musical performance, "a tempo" also holds a musical aesthetic value. It allows for the preservation of the composer's intended tempo, ensuring that the composition retains its intended character, mood, and expression. Ultimately, "a tempo" functions as a valuable tool in guiding performers and enhancing the overall musical experience.

Frequency of the word a tempo appearance in books over time

The depicted graph illustrates the occurrences of the term "a tempo" in a collection of English books from 1800 to 2008.