Intuitively, I feel like tempo markings should go above 1st (or 2nd, 3rd etc.) bracket lines, but I've seen examples where these go below (inside?) the bracket. Does anybody have a definitive answer as to a conventional way to do this?

  • 1
    Are you asking about the general tempo marks of the piece, or where perhaps on the repeat the tempo is different that time round? Any particular style/genre to consider?
    – Tim
    Jun 1, 2017 at 10:56
  • Things like ralls, rits, accels... But also "main" tempo markings: Andante, Slowly etc. I know these don't often happen during 1st time bars, but I'm doing some arranging where there are quite a few tempo changes during these brackets. Jun 1, 2017 at 11:08
  • Since most tempo markings are above, that's where a reader would expect to find them - especially ones that mark a change. Not 'hidden' inside.
    – Tim
    Jun 1, 2017 at 11:29

1 Answer 1


From Elaine Gould's Behind Bars (pg.182): "Place all tempo indications above the uppermost stave, and above all other performance instructions. They should be well clear of slurs, octave signs and articulation."

As far as alignment goes, she goes on to say that each tempo indication should align with the left-most part of the first notational element to which the tempo applies.

  • These "tempo indications" should be stuff like "Andante", "L'istesso tempo", "Presto con fuoco", and other large tempo markings that tend to come with "quarter note equals" indications. The convention I've seen for stuff like "accel.", "rallentando", and "rit." is that they're placed below or between staves, just like dynamic markings.
    – Dekkadeci
    Jun 3, 2017 at 17:43
  • Hello both. I'm not talking about them being between staves. Just whether they should be above or below 1st time bar lines. Sorry if my question isn't clear. Jun 3, 2017 at 19:29
  • 2
    Having read your answer again (properly!), "above all other performance instructions" is pretty clear. Intuitively this seems right to me. I need to get a copy of Behind Bars... Jun 3, 2017 at 20:16
  • @BobBroadley Yes, it's a great resource! Jun 4, 2017 at 14:18

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.