What’s the difference between tempo and bpm? Explained

You probably know words like melody, beat, harmony, rhythm, and tempo even if you aren’t a musician.

I had a difficult time understanding some of these musical terms, such as bpm and tempo, through my experience. It’s actually quite simple to grasp tempo and bpm once you get the hang of it.

How do tempo and bpm differ?

There isn’t much difference between tempo and bpm. The beat in music is measured in beats per minute or BPM. Temp is the rate at which a song or piece of music is performed, measured in beats per minute.

It’s time to explore the concepts of tempo and beats per minute so you can learn how to find a song’s tempo and beats per minute.

What’s the difference between tempo and bpm

Tempo and bpm are difficult to distinguish because they are so intertwined, so we must first examine them separately before comparing them.

BPM: what does it mean?

The term bpm, which stands for beats per minute, is quite self-explanatory unless you have no idea what a beat is, Beats are the basic unit of time in music theory, and they last half a second.

In the words of the University of Amsterdam, the beat is “so fundamental to humans that we recognize patterns in music even without paying any attention or receiving any training.”

You’ve probably found yourself tapping your foot, nodding your head, or swaying your body along with a song, and most likely you were following the beat whether you’re a musician or not.

Tempo: what does it mean?

Tempo refers to the speed at which a song is played. As an example, let me give you something very simple.

Placing your palm over your heart will allow you to hear it beating and you will be able to tell if it goes fast or slow if you pay attention to it. It would be more accurate to say that your heart has a tempo.

There are many “simple” things you can do to find tempo, such as breathing and walking. Music tempo is a bit more complicated than that, but it still has to do with speed.

Musicians can be given instructions to play fast or slow, or more complex directions like presto, largo, and moderato that not only specify speed but also convey the piece’s musical feel.

Do tempo and beats per minute differ?

Now let’s look at how bpm and tempo are actually connected, which is also a very straightforward process. Musicians use Bpm to communicate tempo, a numerical value corresponding to tempo, or in other words, it’s the most exact way of measuring speed.

The tempo of a piece of music tells us how fast it is, but the beats per minute tell us exactly how fast it is. BPM indicates how many quarter notes fill a minute since beats last half a second.

A 60-beat per minute tempo means 60 quarter notes or beats per second. There are two beats per second or 120 beats per minute when the tempo is 120 bpm. A higher number indicates a faster tempo.

Where can I find A song’s BPM?

You will naturally find the bpm of the music if you want to determine the tempo. The beats per minute are a measure of the speed of music, and it is expressed as the number of beats per minute.

A metronome will give you a precise result if you listen to the drum beat and count the bpm, or you can listen to the drum beat and use a stopwatch to count the bpm.

Also, you can analyze a song with software or a musical program to determine its beats per minute. You can also find sites that provide you with the bpm of songs when you enter their name.

Where can i find the tempo of A song?

At first, tempo tap might seem easy to grasp, but finding the tempo isn’t as simple. A composer’s tempo instructions in an orchestra are not the only thing that musicians must learn how to follow.

To find out the tempo of a song, look at the tempo markings, or metronome markings at the beginning of the piece.

Using a metronome is another way to find tempo if you don’t have a score. Dietrich Nikolaus Winkel developed the metronome we know today and Johann Nepomuk Maelzel patented it in 1815. Usually an audible click is produced by this device, and pulses are measured in beats per minute.

This tap metronome’s great feature is that, by tapping along with the beat of the song you’re listening to, it will automatically calculate the song’s tempo in beats per minute. Using a metronome is a great way for musicians to develop a sense of timing and tempo.

You can also use specific apps that basically work like a metronome if you don’t have a metronome because we live in the digital age. Different digital audio software can also be used to determine a song’s tempo.

Additionally, many musicians and bands use “click tracks” to sync sound recordings. Click tracks are simple ticking sounds played through the musician’s headphones that keep the tempo steady.

Drums usually set the tempo of musical instruments, so if you’re trying to figure out the tempo of a song, you might want to concentrate on the drums or another rhythmic instrument.

How do tempo markings work?

In addition to bpm, tempo markings are also used to identify a song’s speed. Tempo markings correspond to a number of beats per minute, as you can see in the table below.

Italian Tempo MarkingsBPMMeaning
Larghissimo24 bpm or slowerVery, very slow
Grave25 to 45 bpmSlow and solemn
Largo40 to 60 bpmSlow and broad and it’s subtly faster than grave
Lento45 to 60 bpmslow
Larghetto60 to 66 bpmRather broad but still quite slow
Adagio66 to 76 bpmAt ease, slow with great expression
Adagietto70 to 80 bpmFaster than adagio but rather slow
Andante76 to 108 bpmAt a walking pace
Moderato108 to 120 bpmModerate speed
Allegretto112 to 120 bpmModerately fast
Allegro120 to 156 bpmFast and Bright
Vivace156 to 176 bpmLively and fast
Presto168 to 200 bpmExtremely fast
Prestissimo200 and overFaster than Presto

Tempo is still described in Italian because of human history, of course. In the Renaissance and Baroque periods, Italian composers were most famous.

Italian is also spoken in other countries, but it is less popular than languages such as German and French. Although Italian is used by some musicians, by certain musical genres, and in some studios, it isn’t used everywhere.

Additionally, certain Italian tempo markings are more popular than others. A wider variety of musicians know largo, andante, allegro, and presto than classical musicians.

Jazz and rock musicians, for instance, seldom use Italian terminology in their casual musical language. It’s more likely that they’ll use English terms, or their own language, such as fast, slow, medium-up, and medium-down.

Also worth mentioning is tempo rubato, which refers to players setting their own tempo instead of playing with a set one. There is a lot of tempo rubato in Chopin’s music, and Vladimir Horowitz performs it beautifully!

Italian Tempo Markings

The following table shows the meaning of the Italian tempo markings, as well as their metronome mark range. However, these are not all the markings that are available, and there are a lot of variations as well, depending on the context and intent of the composer.

How to measure the tempo?

The tempo of music is expressed by tempo markings, words that express the speed and feel of the music, and metronome markings, which indicate how fast the music is going.

To measure the tempo of a song, you can calculate its beats per minute. A stopwatch and your ears can be used for this, but if you are not an experienced musician, this may not be the most accurate method.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a wooden metronome, a digital metronome, or a quartz metronome, you can use a metronome instead. As an alternative, tempo-detecting apps and software are also available.

Changing tempo for musical effect

Changing the tempo of a song keeps the listener interested. If you would like to change a tune’s tempo, you can do so in a few different ways:

  • To bring a song to a satisfying conclusion, slow down at the end.
  • Build excitement by speeding up before the big chorus or guitar solo.
  • To make the difference between verse and chorus more noticeable, adjust the tempo between them.

You can also benefit from tempo training by gaining a solid foundation for using rhythm freely.

Quick Questions

Are BPM the same as tempo?

The tempo of music refers to the number of beats that occur within a minute. In this measure of time, the speed of music is expressed as beats per minute (BPM). For a tempo of 120 BPM, there are exactly 120 beats per minute.

How many BPM is a tempo?

The term “beats per minute” (or BPM) is self-explanatory: it indicates the number of beats in one minute. An example of tempo notation would be 60 BPM, which means that a beat occurs exactly once every second. With two beats per second, a 120 BPM tempo would be twice as fast.

What is the tempo of 120 BPM?

two beats per second

BPM is the beats-per-minute measurement of the pulse. 60 BPM corresponds to one beat per second, while 120 BPM corresponds to two beats per second.

What are the 5 types of tempo?

Tempos in music range from slowest to fastest, including grave, lento, largo, adagio, adante, moderato, allegretto, allegro, vivace, presto, prestissimo. There are many types of music, but one of the most common is allegro, ranging from 105 to 132 beats per minute.