Advanced Music Theory tutorials
8. Rallentando and accelerando
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Are you entirely sure I don't have to learn another language for this course?

  1. Topics of discussion
  2. Rallentando
  3. Accelerando

1. Topics of discussion

In this tutorial, we will be discussing two musical terms that indicate you should change the tempo of the song. So, let's have some fun.

2. Rallentando

In music, rallentando is used to signify that the section of music marked with this term is to be played gradually slower. What I mean by that is that when you play it, you have to decrease the tempo a bit during the section and then move back to the original speed.

How much slower should the section be played you ask? Well, it depends on the tempo of the song. For example, if a song is meant to be played at 120 BPM, then you should gradually reduce the speed to something like 100 BPM. However, if the song is meant to be played at a lower tempo, say 90BPM or lower, then you should reduce the tempo by 10 to maximum 15 BPM to 80BPM or 75 BPM. You need to adapt to the song so as to now slow down too much, You don't want people falling asleep waiting for the next note, you know? The example I will provide uses a 20BPM tempo change, just so you know.

On a music sheet, a rallentando section is notated with rall.... or rallentando, depending on what notation the person who transcribed the song prefers.

Here is an example of how a rallentando section looks and sounds. First off, the music sheet:

Rallentando

And here it is played back:

3. Accelerando

Accelerando is the opposite of rallentando and it means that you need to play the section marked with accelerando at a gradually faster tempo. The tempo change rules are pretty much the same, though I wouldn't recommend going too fast regardless of the tempo. The example I will provide uses a 20BPM tempo change, just so you know.

Notation wise, you will encounter either an accel... or accelerando notation on your sheet. Here is an example:

Accelerando

And here it is played back:

And that about covers it for this tutorial. In the next one, we will be discussing chromatic scales in more detail. See you then.

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