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(or speed, or movement)

This chapter presents the concept of tempo or movement and how to indicate tempo in Harmony-Melody.

Musical theory reminder

Tempo is the speed at which your tune is played. It is indicated in a score by using terms such as: Andante (moderate), Allegro (animated) ...

It can also be written as a musical note followed by the equals sign and the metronome setting for this note. For example, a quarter note followed by "=100" means 100 quarter notes will be played in one minute.


In Harmony-Melody you can set the General tempo (Score>General tempo) to specify the global value of the tune's playing speed. This value is given as the number of quarter notes per minute.

In addition to this general tempo, you can set a tempo change anywhere in the  score.

Note: the tempo change tool is included in the "Ottava & tempo" palette in the "Windows" menu.

A tempo change always applies to all staves simultaneously. It is sensible, as an aid to clarity, to write all tempo changes on the first staff, but this is not obligatory.

When clicking on a score with this tool, a new item appears. It has several elements. By default, tempo change has no effect on playing speed, it only indicates the current tempo value at this location in the score. If you edit it and change its values, the tune playing speed will be changed from that location onwards.

To delete a tempo change, use the delete (lightning bolt) tool.

You can move or resize the tempo change item by using the Select (lasso) tool on this item.


Double-clicking on an item edits it and lets you change its internal values.
Here is an example of a tempo change item in Harmony-Melody:

From left to right, you see:

  • A caption. This text is free, you can write anything you want and choose its display parameters (font, style, size). This text is optional, if you do not want it to appear, leave this field blank. You will find at the end of this chapter a list of the most common terms and their meanings.

  • A horizontal line. This line is used to show the end of a tempo change, when using the smooth variation option. You can choose not to display this line.

  • A note. This is the reference note. You can select the note value from a 32nd note to a dotted whole note. This reference note can be displayed just after the text or at the right of the item's field. It can also be not displayed at all.

  • A number. This is the number of reference notes per minute. In our example, 120 eighth notes will be played in one minute.

  • The reference note size can be changed.
Warning: If you leave the caption field blank, set the reference note to invisible and do not display the horizontal line, your tempo change item will be completely invisible.

Harmony-Melody allows you to define either an abrupt or a smooth tempo change.

With a smooth change, tempo will change smoothly until the desired value is reached.
This change will be more or less rapid, according to the size of the tempo change item. When a smooth change is completed, the tempo stays at the final value, i.e. the one you set in the tempo window.

The beginning and the end of the tempo object can be defined here: input beginning and end in measure number, beat position and fractional 100th beat position.

You can setup the shape of the acceleration. Six predefined shapes are proposed. For example, a tempo can go from value 100 to 150 with a slow acceleration then a quick. Click on the red handles to change the curve shape.

In our example, the change of tempo will begin on the first quarter note, and reach a final value of 120 at the third note.

You are invited to view the "Smooth tempo variations: ritardendo, accelerando." video tutorial ("Windows>Tutorials" menu in the program).



The speed at which your tune is played is set primarily by the general tempo. If you change this value, all tempo change items on your score will be adjusted automatically.

Note: Users of older versions of Harmony & Melody will be accustomed to setting tempo variations with the "tempo staff". This is still possible, but using the new notation is recommended.


Here are some of the terms most commonly used to express tempo values:

Largo Broad, very slow
Larghetto A little bit faster than largo
Lento Slow
Adagio A little bit faster than lento.
Andante Moderate
Andantino A little bit faster than andante
Allegretto Bright, animated
Presto Very fast
Prestissimo As fast as possible

Some other terms can be added to specify the style more precisely:

Affettuoso Affectionate
Agitato Agitated
Con brio With animation
Con fuoco With fire
Grave Solemn
Maestoso Majestic
Moderato Moderate
Mosso Moving, animated
Scherzo Jesting
Sostenuto Sustained
Vivace Bright

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