Part 13 Tempos and changes
In his penultimate music reading lesson Charlie Griffiths describes some of the commonly used terms associated with tempos and tempo changes in musical situations.
means that you should gradually decrease the speed. Ritardando is sometimes abbreviated to “ritard.” or “rit.”. similarly, a dotted line above the score indicates the amount of bars to be slowed down.
Rallentando is another term which indicates a slowing down in tempo which is essentially the same as ritardando, but rallentando (or ‘rall’ for short) is usually placed at the end of a piece of music and is often a more dramatic drop in tempo which brings a song to and end.
Finally we have fermata which is best interpreted as a momentary pause in the song, and usually used as an effective way to build
Sometimes tempi are written traditionally, using Italian descriptions to denote the speed of a piece: Adagio, Andante, Moderato, etc.
the anticipation of an ending note or chord, but they can also be used within a piece too. the fermata symbol is sometimes referred to as a ‘birdseye’, or ‘cyclops’ as it is drawn as a single dot, with a curved line above it. A fermata can be placed above any note and effectively prolongs that note for an unspecified time. The exact amount that the note is prolonged is an artistic decision left up to the musician, or conductor. In rock and pop music, the drummer of the band will usually assume the role of conductor for these moments and visually cue the band to come in on the following note with a combination of eye contact and the physical motion of his sticks. singers also sometimes adopt this role.
A fermata symbol can also be placed over a barline, which indicates a pause at the end of a section within the piece.
the following examples demonstrate how some of these tempo markings work in practice. Follow the notation while listening to the audio examples and try recreating the parts over the backing tracks provided.
Whether speeding up, slowing down or staying steady there is a term for them all