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Music: tempo, rhythm and meter. About pace, rhythm and meter

The tempo in music is the speed of metric counting units (the ratio of the number of events that happened to the time they took).

According to a long tradition, the tempo is designated in Italian and is set at the very beginning of the musical notation of the work. The main designations of tempo in ascending order:

grave, largo, adagio, tape (slow pace);
andante, moderato (moderate pace);
animato, allegro, vivo, presto (fast pace).

Sometimes the additional designations are added to the main designations, clarifying the nature of the performance: maestoso (maestozo – solemnly) or furioso (furioso – furiously), mesto (place – sadly) or scherzoso (scherzo-zo – playfully) – you will not list all, you must use a special dictionary.

Some genres (march, waltz) are characterized by a certain pace. A metronome serves as an accurate measure of tempo.

The pace of music is perceived instantly and to a greater extent determines its nature. The fast pace is inherent in music, embodying a striving, cheerful mood, vibrant energy, festive animation, but also confusion, emotion, drama. Slowly flowing music, which reflects a state of peace, stillness, strict lofty feelings, and even deep sadness, grief. The average tempo is more neutral and is used in music of various contents, they do not so much contribute to the expression of a thought as they do not contradict it (recall that tempo is only one aspect of music, and in general its character is determined only by all its means in their unity )

The pace may vary. Glinkinsky Ruslan begins his famous aria Moderato maestoso (“Oh, field, field …”), and continues Allegro (“Give, Perun …”). The contrast of gloomy reflection and strong-willed determination is emphasized by the contrast of pace. In the introduction to the opera by J. Bizet “Carmen” after the colorful and festive section of the Allegro giocoso (jocoso – fun, joyful), the theme of the tragic fate of the main character arises – at a twice slower pace. The tempo change in I. O. Dunaevsky’s “Song of the Homeland” is even more clearly perceived, because the same theme sounds differently in it: a refrain at the beginning of the song is played in a wide and solemn, slow, in the character of the anthem, and when repeated It goes completely differently, resiliently and energetically, more vividly, at the pace of the march. The tempo contrast is typical of a slow introduction and a quick main section of the first part of the symphony, an instrumental concerto; the contrast of the fast extreme parts with the slow average (or one of the middle ones) is just as typical in these compositions.

The pace can change not only “in leaps”, but also gradually. Very often, at the very end of a work, the movement of music slows down (ritenuto, rallentando – ritenuto, rallentando) – braking precedes a complete stop; for example, the anthem of the Soviet Union ends. The composer’s idea may also require gradual acceleration (accelerando – accelerando), as in the final section of the 6th Hungarian Rhapsody of F. Liszt, where the cheerful dance theme is repeated several times and each time sounds faster, reaching the ultimate pace by the end. In a word, both the tempo as such and its instantaneous and gradual changes are an important means of musical expressiveness.

Meter in music

The meter sets the grid of strong and weak lobes with equal distances between the lobes. It can be imagined as graph paper, on which the smallest cell of the thinnest lines is the minimum duration in the work, thicker lines indicate fractions, even thicker ones indicate relatively strong fractions, and the thickest ones indicate strong fractions.

When a composer consciously combines rhythmic units into such groups (or in various modifications), a meter appears in the composition.

The most obvious segments between two adjacent strong lobes are allocated to measures.

A measure is the gap between two adjacent strong beats. In a musical notation, a measure is a collection of notes enclosed between two measures — vertical lines on a musical instrument (musical staff).

The main meters arise from the union of rhythmic units in two (bipartite meter), three (three-part meter), four (four-part meter) and six (composite bipartite meter, that is, consisting of two groups of three parts).

The described groups (measures) are indicated in musical notation by time lines (vertical lines drawn through the staves) that separate one measure from another.

On the lines of this grid, you can draw rhythmic figures from segments of different lengths (notes of various durations). The shapes can be completely different, but they will all rely on the lines of this grid.

The duration of notes can be set in relative units (the smallest cells): this sound is a segment 4 cells long, and this one is 2. These ratios will not change with a change in the scale of the grid. The sequence of alternation of such segments (notes and pauses) is the rhythm.

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