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Classical and Romantic Performing Practice 1750-1900$
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Clive Brown

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780198161653

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198161653.001.0001

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Tempo Modification

Tempo Modification

(p.375) 11 Tempo Modification
Classical and Romantic Performing Practice 1750-1900

Clive Brown

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses changing approaches to tempo modification. Types of tempo modification are described, two basic categories being identified: first, changes of speed within a piece, such as arbitrary accelerando or rallentando (where no changes of speed are marked by the composer); and secondly, modification by means of redistributing note values within a fundamentally constant tempo. The second type of tempo modification, often referred to by theorists as tempo rubato, was a pervasive element in Classical and Romantic performance; this is illustrated from the writings of theorists, critical writings and the evidence of composers' scores. The use of the messa die voce sign (<>), as an indication of expressive lingering, is discussed. A more specialized use of the term tempo rubato as an arthythmical embellishment is discussed in relation to C. P. E. Bach, Dussek, and Chopin.

Keywords:   tempo rubato, messa di voce, accelerando, rallentando

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