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Learn the Language of Music ; Tempo

Some pieces of music are played very quickly, some very slowly, and others at moderate pace. Tempo refers to speed at which the meter in the music is performed.


Traditional tempo markings are interpreted markings, which may vary slightly from one performer to another. The words originate from the Italian language



Andante


Of these traditional tempo markings, Andante is the human norm of movement, being an easy walking pace. From this normal tempo, a musician can interpret the other markings which are either faster or slower by degrees. Play string number 1 on your guitar and imagine keeping an easy walking pace.


As you imagine walking, alternate your picking direction by picking direction by picking down when you imagine stepping with your left foot and picking up when you imagine stepping with your right foot.


Each person will play Andante at a slightly different speed as the tempo marking and its meaning is subjected to interpretation. As you play, keep all of the note durations equal as you imagine your steps will timed equally.



Modern Tempo Markings

Modern tempo markings are related to our modern time keeping devices. They usually written as beats per minute or bpm. A modern tempo norm is 60 beats per minute, which is equal to one second per beat.


If you look at a clock with a second hand or a digital clock displaying seconds, you can easily follow this normal tempo. Play string number 1 on your guitar, keeping time with the second hand of the clock or with the second hand of the clock or with this second digit on a digital clock.


As you play, alternate your picking direction, keeping the heel of your picking hand just behind the saddle and moving your hand side to side from your wrist.


Modern tempo markings are more accurate and are less subject to variance by human interpretation, however, tempo markings are written for performance tempo, and during a performance each person will play a modern tempo marking at a slightly different speed.


When you practice, you will often play at a slower speed than the performance tempo and work up to speed as you become more familiar and more confident with the music.


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