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32 votes
Accepted

What is it called to play a music with flowing tempo in piano?

Rubato. This specifically means compensating for each slow-down with a speed-up. If there was a click track, you'd come out on the right beat at the end! 'Rubato' doesn't instruct you to play the ...
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29 votes

Is it true that cut time means "play twice as fast as written"?

It would be more accurate to say that cut time "will sound twice as fast as the same notes played in 4/4 at the same tempo". That's essentially what they're trying to get across. But even that ...
  • 4,747
22 votes

Do I have to be a virtuoso pianist to compose faster music?

The simple answer is no. Think of it this way: Does a composer write pieces only for instruments he can play? No, he does not. He might compose pieces for instruments that he has never touched in his ...
22 votes
Accepted

Is it good practice to speed up and slow down where not written in a song?

I think it depends very much on the genre, style, and period of the music. For some styles, heavy use of rubato is normal and suits the way the music is written, while for others it would spoil the ...
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22 votes
Accepted

What is the meaning of "M. M." in this tempo mark?

It stands for... M.M. Metronome Marking. Formerly "Mälzel Metronome." Named after the Inventor Johann Mälzel who is the person who first manufactured a metronome for widespread use (...
  • 14.3k
21 votes

What does a straight horizontal line above a few notes, after a changed tempo mean?

This line refers to the I, not to the "Allegro". As OP mentioned in the comments, the I stands for the first position, i. e. the first fret on the guitar. So the line means, that all notes under it ...
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20 votes
Accepted

Why would a teacher ban the metronome altogether?

It sounds to me like you are using the metronome in an effective manner. Your teacher might have been concerned that you, as a young student, would have seen playing in perfect time as an artistic ...
  • 1,737
20 votes

Is it true that cut time means "play twice as fast as written"?

That sentence "Played twice as fast as written" indicates that someone must have a misunderstanding. Someone who probably thinks that quarter notes are supposed to be played at a certain speed. That ...
19 votes

Do musicians count the meter all the time?

Counting is an absolutely necessary step when learning a new piece.It is the rhythmic framework of any piece. Without it, you may well be playing a different tune. 'All the right notes, but not in the ...
  • 182k
19 votes
Accepted

Is it acceptable to change tempo in the middle of a song or is this a bad idea?

Is changing tempo during the song and back again a common device used on modern popular music? Or is there a good reason to avoid this type thing? No, it is not a device commonly used in popular ...
  • 25.3k
18 votes
Accepted

How to convert a dotted quarter note tempo to BPM?

No, it is not 150 bpm. A tempo indication is an indication of beats per minutes. A tempo of 100 means 100 beat in a minute. It's how a metronome plays beats. Your watch moves the second at a bpm of 60,...
18 votes

Why are measures (aka "bars") important?

Please count 1-2-3-4,1-2-3-4, then at the same tempo (speed/ bpm) count 1-2-3-1-2-3. If you can't feel or tell the difference, then, you're right, there's no need for bars. If you can, then how will ...
  • 182k
17 votes

Is it good practice to speed up and slow down where not written in a song?

It's not bad per se, but it's dangerous. Making this a habit will impair your ability to play with others. As an expressive device, varying the tempo can be distracting. (That's why it's notated ...
16 votes

Is there any way for my to become a better judge of my playing? Especially while I'm playing

This is a terrific, and very important, question! Have you ever heard a recording of yourself speaking? Did it come across as odd to you? Did you ever think "that's not how I sound!"? The same is ...
  • 81.7k
16 votes
Accepted

How to indicate a tempo change during a repetition?

Just use text. I would put this information with the D.C. (or D.S.) marking and with the original tempo marking. But I would put it inside a bracket. So for instance, at the beginning: "Allegro (...
  • 21.1k
16 votes

What's the difference between "con brio" and "con fuoco"?

There’s not much (if any) difference in the tempo they imply, but there’s a difference in character. Literally, con brio means with spirit, while con fuoco means with fire. Regarding tempo, both are ...
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16 votes
Accepted

Playing ONE triplet (not three)

Of course, playing only one of them with no other context wouldn't sound like triplets, no matter what the note lengths were. As already mentioned, playing the 1st & 3rd triplet gives you a swing ...
  • 25k
15 votes
Accepted

What is it called when a music has two concurrent tempos

The answer here is deceptively simple: Polytempo. There are other names, such as multi-tempo, polytemporal, and others, but they all describe the same phenomena. Here is a link for further reading ...
  • 25.3k
14 votes

Is it good practice to speed up and slow down where not written in a song?

Depends. Some people use 'expressive rubato' as an excuse for bad time-keeping. In particular an excuse for playing the tricky bits slower than the easy bits! Flexible time is probably a bad idea ...
  • 83.5k
12 votes
Accepted

What do dots on the tempo's equal sign mean?

This means "approximately equal to". I found this with a quick Google search. Here is an example of a webpage confirming the meaning of this symbol. I must confess, I prefer to use "c.", the ...
  • 21.1k
12 votes

Why are measures (aka "bars") important?

One bar tends to be the smallest time after which there is some repetition in multiple voices. This is quite a bit of an oversimplification, but it is often observable, in approximate form, in many ...
12 votes

Is it good practice to speed up and slow down where not written in a song?

As Lawrence said, you are describing "Rubato". My professor in college recommended playing the piece first at a more "rigid" tempo and then using your own discretion. You want rubato to feel tasteful ...
12 votes
Accepted

Why did Shostakovich use such long note values for such fast notes?

First of all you should note that this is notated alla breve, so comparing the time to quarters per minutes serves little purpose. Could this have been notated in 2/4? Yes, absolutely! Writing it like ...
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11 votes
Accepted

How can I retain a tempo so as to keep in time when playing with a group?

It's a good start that you are aware of the problem because many people never become aware of their timing issues. I suggest you use a simple DAW or a drum computer for producing drum grooves with ...
  • 19.8k
11 votes

Do musicians count the meter all the time?

As you beginner, I strongly suggest you keep doing that. What I did when I first begun, was to count everything with my foot. After a while, I didn't really need to count every single thing with the ...
11 votes

Why would a teacher ban the metronome altogether?

I think I can understand what your teacher was trying to say. He wanted to make you feel the music. Music needs to breathe. If a computer and a human play the same song, it will sound different; the ...
11 votes

Is it possible to have "Perfect Tempo"

I know a professional conductor who can pretty much nail it right on. It's just like perfect pitch, in that it's something you learn to do by being exposed to a ton of music and having reference ...
  • 21.7k
11 votes

Why are measures (aka "bars") important?

To offer a different perspective from the other excellent answers here, I'll draw an analogy between a piece of music and a piece of prose. Barlines are separators, just like paragraphs and chapters. ...
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