Tempo Markings & Movement Titles

Sometimes a movement has a title. Many movements are identified only by their tempo marking. 


Tempo markings: what they mean technically and how we interpret them

  1. Grave: solemn
  2. Largo: large, broad
  3. Larghetto: a little bit broad
  4. Lento: slow
  5. Adagio: at ease
  6. Moderato: moderate
  7. Andante: walking speed
  8. Andantino: lightly walking
  9. Allegretto: a little bit fast
  10. Allegro: means happy, interpreted as fast
  11. Presto: swift
  12. Prestissimo: extremely fast


Movement titles: (other then tempo markings)


A. Finale: (final): the last movement of a multi-movement work

B. Intermezzo, Interlude: (in between): a light composition which fits between substantial musical or dramatic entities

C. Invention: a short contrapuntal piece

D. March: a piece of music with a strong regular rhythm suitable for marching

E. Nocturne, Notturno: (nocturnal): music that is inspired by the night

F. Prelude, Intrada: introductory movement

G. Scherzo: joke; Scherzoso, Scherzando: joking

H. Toccata: (played): a technically brilliant piece

I. Dance Movements: (Duple time has two-beat or four-beat pulse; triple time has three-beat pulse.)



  1. Allemande: German dance, sometimes lively, sometimes slow, sometimes in duple time, sometimes in triple time 
  2. Bolero: lively, Spanish dance in triple time
  3. Bourrée: hearty, French or Spanish dance in duple time
  4. Contradanse: (country dance); any of a number of folk dances, orginally English
  5. Courrante: (running): a rapid French dance in triple time
  6. Écossaise: lively Scottish dance in duple time
  7. Fandango: Spanish dance in triple time
  8. Française: graceful french dance in triple time
  9. Galop: (gallop): a quick French dance in duple time
  10. Gavotte: graceful and elegant French dance in duple time
  11. Gigue: (jig) lively dance with beats divided in three
  12. Gitana: Gypsy dance
  13. Habañera: (from Havana) Cuban dance in triple time
  14. Jaleo: (uproar): Spanish dance accompanied by clapping and shouting
  15. Jota: quick Spanish dance in triple time
  16. Loure: slow French dance in triple division time
  17. Mazurka: quick Polish dance in triple division time
  18. Musette: (French Bagpipe): French dance with a droning bass
  19. Polka: Bohemian Dance (not German) in duple time 
  20. Polonaise, Polacca: slower Polish dance in triple time
  21. Saltarello: (jumping): jumping Italian dance
  22. Sarabande: slow Saracen dance in triple time
  23. Sicilienne: slow Sicilian dance in triple division time 
  24. Tarantella: quick, frenzied Spanish/Italian dance in triple division time  
  25. Waltz, Ländler: German dance in triple time

For more information about dances, includng steps go to http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/dihtml/diessay0.html