Tempo Markings and Notation

In the digital world tempos can be set with unbelievable precision down to multiple decimal places. This is great when “reverse engineering” a tempo marking from an audio file or setting a sequencer or DAW to follow every nuance of a humanized performance, but not so good when it comes to notation. I am a big believer in rounding to the nearest standard metronome mark when indicating tempo in notated parts. I am also a big believer in using actual metronome values rather than “fuzzy” tempo expressions such as andante, allegro, largo, et al. Let’s be honest my allegro & your allegro are very likely different. It’s really best to simply tell me what you had in mind.

For a refresher, here are the standard tempo markings on a typical metronome: 40, 42, 44, 46,48, 50, 52, 54, 56, 58, 60, 63, 66, 69, 72, 76, 80, 84, 88, 92, 96, 100, 104, 108, 112, 116, 120, 126, 132, 138, 144, 152, 160, 168, 176, 184, 192, 200 & 208.

Using these for your notated music will simplify life for those that have to read it & get your point across much more clearly than “molto poco moderato”.



I just found this free music notation software package (GPL license) called MuseScore the other night. I gave it a quick workout, by creating a quick leadsheet, importing a MusicXML file, editing it, saving it (as MusicXML again) and then reopened it in Sibelius. I have to say, it handled it all without a hitch.

I also have to say that the handling of lyrics is superb. I haven’t tried multi-verse lyrics, just a simple verse/chorus test, but it handled broken syllables and melismas better than my favorite notation software.

All-in-all the people behind this project deserve a lot of credit. This is a great (free) addition to any musicians computer.