I'm learning one jazz piece for piano. On the introduction part music sheet says "Slowly and freely, straight 8ths", once intro is done and main part begins, it says "In time, swing feeling".

I'm confused by this "In time" thing. I'd assume, it's somewhat faster than the intro, but I'm not really sure.

Could anyone explain?

  • You could use the piece itself as an example - as you're not really asking specifics about that piece. It may help us.
    – Tim
    Jan 2, 2018 at 8:44
  • @Tim well, it's a jazz interpretation of "Falling in love with you" sang by Elvis Presley. Which is slow by itself originally. Should I scan a page of it to share?
    – edio
    Jan 2, 2018 at 15:26
  • @Tim I forgot to take the sheet to the office to scan, made a photo, hope it'll suffice drive.google.com/open?id=1LqV_V_rwsm0mWywSFTLeQI0sgBbMR2sa. Thanks for your help!
    – edio
    Jan 3, 2018 at 4:52

2 Answers 2


"In time" indicates that the tempo should be fairly strict, as opposed to the intro marked "freely", which indicates that you have freedom to push and pull as you feel.

It's often the case that a "free" intro will be slower than the main part of the song, but not always. Sometimes, for example, the intro will consist of a series of block chords which are notated as whole notes for simplicity but actually speed by. In your case, the fact that the intro also says "slowly" probably implies that the main song should be faster.

  • 1
    It can be difficult to 'swing' without a steady tempo! Whether it's to be a slow walking blues or an up-tempo swinger isn't stated. You'll have to make an educated guess from the style of the music. Jan 2, 2018 at 14:43

Sounds a bit vague - and probably is left like that, so the player(s) can make choices. 'Slowly and freely, straight 8s' is pretty clear, and hints that the rest will be faster - how much, is up to the player. If it's straight or swung, the count will still be the same - 1 2 3 4, it's only the sub-divisions within the bars that change. However, here, it says 'in time', which should reflect the tempo written at the beginning, and also keep in strict time, as opposed to the intro, which would be played rubato.

In trying to answer the lead question - if there is no bpm guide at the top of the piece,- no-one knows!

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