One of the requirements for an audition process I am going through is to play my chromatic scale. The required speed for it says MM quarter note = 100. I can't figure out the speed necessary for it. Someone told me to cut the number in half. Am I supposed to play this at 100 BPM? Am I supposed to play at 50 BPM?

  • 1
    One thing that won't be clear from these answers or the duplicate: I can't tell you how fast to actually play the scale without seeing the notes on the page. But what you do know is you should set your metronome for 100, and then think of the metronome as "making quarter notes." So if your scale is printed in quarter notes, play one note per click. If it's eighth notes, play two notes per click, etc. Any advice to "cut the number in half" might have meant that the scale is printed in half notes, or the person was confused, or they were advising you to start your practice slowly (good advice!). Nov 15, 2022 at 14:09
  • Quarter-note = 100 is a common speed for scales in a music exam.
    – Aaron
    Nov 15, 2022 at 14:58
  • @Aaron - have a look at ABRSM chromatic scale speeds. Anything from 54 bpm up to 120, if I read it right. Dependant (surprise, surprise!) on grade levels.
    – Tim
    Nov 15, 2022 at 15:46

2 Answers 2


MM is an abbreviation for Metronome Measure. Or more accurately - Maelzel's Metronome. The units involved are beats per minute. So if MM=60, there is one beat/note played every second (60 secs=1 min).

In the case of MM=100, it's slightly faster, with each crotchet (quarter beat) played so that there will be 100 of them in one minute. A real metronome, or a metronome app will be of great help here.


MM is simply an abbreviation for Mälzels Metronom. Mälzel introduced the metronome to the market with lots of success (although he did not apparently invent it). So this is simply to be read as conventional metronome marking.

Regarding halving the tempo: This is an idea that came up in the 70s I think and quickly was refuted. The idea went: Beethoven wrote some really fast Metronome markings, so maybe in the beginning one beat was not intended to last a single movement of the pendulum, but the whole forth-back-movement, effectively halving the tempo. No matter how ridiculous this idea is it has followers to this day and one guy called Wim Winters even has a whole YouTube channel trying to popularize this idea and portray it as historically correct.

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