What is the tempo when it is given in words

I have come across chord and lyric sheets that give the tempo in words, such as fast, medium, slow and wondered if there was a generally agreed BPM range for each when playing a guitar.

Looked on Wikipedia and it lists 22 for classical music, a bit complicated and not very helpful.

Has anybody any thoughts on this

Michael :question:

As a beginner you shouldn’t worry about tempo. Play at what ever speed you can play without mistakes. If your still conserned listen to your favorate version of the song and count it out. I say your favorate version because you’ll find the same song played at different tempos even by the same band.


A good exercise as well, at least to me, is to play the song, tap the foot to the beat, strum along on muted strings, feeling the rhythm and strumming patterns, getting into the groove.


I actually find it so fascinating that Tempo is given with words…Allegretto, Moderato…:heart_eyes: Tempo is objective and we can measure it with clocks and metronomes…but…:thought_balloon::thought_balloon::thought_balloon:

Silvia @SILVIA
I am a simple soul and from an engineering background so like things organised and in numbers.
Loads of references on the internet, see below, resisted the 22 in Wikipedia.

Would have to get my Italian phrase book out to understand the actual words, but first one gives a description that you might encounter.

Michael :notes:


Yeah, the Italian terminology is more frequently used in a classical context, and even there there’s room for variation. You’ll find, for example, that two different recordings of the same piece may have a slightly different tempo depending on the interpretation of the player.


I can relate to that very much. I’m also from an engineering background. I like it when others can break down their strumming to a 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & structure, or 1 e & a 2 e & a etc. Some wills say just listen to the song and get the feel for it, which doesn’t work that well for me. Once I can see the pattern, the numbers, and play it slowly, I then start to get the feel of it as I speed up. We all learn in our own ways suitable to our personalities and quirks.


I can fully understand you, numbers do provide confidence. Words leave space for interpretation and in some ways it gives a sense of freedom. But before getting to that I think one needs to work with numbers in the first place. It’ s a fortunate coincidence that while you’re questioning about tempo I’m questioning about Rhythm, being the two so related .

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Silvia @SILVIA
Actually yes I have been following your topic on rhythm and as you say they are related.
In reality the precise BPM is only important if you want to play with original track, if not you can make an adjustment to suit.
I was just trying to get the sort of rage for each term.
Of course you can find just about any song on the internet and using Justin’s Tempo calculator get close to what it is.
Michael :+1: