Music TheoryPerformance DirectionsTempo

What Is The Musical Term For Fast?

Written by Dan Farrant

Last updated

In music, when describing how fast a piece of music should be played at we use a series of different Italian words. These tend to be a rough range rather than a fixed specific speed.

Below, I’ve added some of the different Italian terms we use to indicate fast tempos.

I’ve also indicated a rough BPM (which stands for beats per minute) if you want to use a metronome online to check the speed.

Italian termDefinitionBpm
Moderatoat a moderate speed108 – 120 bpm
Allegrettomoderately fast112 – 120 bpm
Allegro moderatofast (but not as fast as allegro)116 – 120 bpm
Allegrofast, quickly and bright120 – 156 bpm
Vivacelively and fast156 – 176 bpm
Vivacissimovery quick (faster than vivace)172 – 176 bpm
Allegrissimovery fast172 – 176 bpm
Prestovery fast168 – 200 bpm
Prestissimoas quickly as possibleover 200 bpm

For a music theory exam you won’t be expected to know the BPM of each tempo but you’ll need to know the description.

Also, remember that the beats per minute that I’ve put are rough indications. There are lots of differing opinions from different sources that will say differently.

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Dan Farrant, the founder of Hello Music Theory, has been teaching music for over 15 years, helping hundreds of thousands of students unlock the joy of music. He graduated from The Royal Academy of Music in 2012 and then launched Hello Music Theory in 2014. He plays the guitar, piano, bass guitar and double bass and loves teaching music theory.