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A musical term to describe the speed or pace of music.

There are two ways to indicate tempo:

1. Give a specific number of beats per minute (BPM)/metronome speed.

2. Write a tempo term, usually in Italian, which gives not only the speed, but also suggests the character of the piece: for example, the term lento refers to a slow piece of music with a more sombre character, whereas terms like allegro and prestissimo refer to a fast piece of music with a lively and light character. It is also possible to have both a BPM/metronome speed and a tempo term.

As a rule of thumb, modern music such as pop and rock songs tend to use BPM, whereas classical music will more often use tempo terms.

On the sheet music, the BPM or tempo term can be found above the stave of the first bar of the piece.