Italian Tempo Markings: a 'cheat sheet' w/ TV Show Theme Songs

As kids we're taught that if we ever have to give someone CPR we should deliver chest compressions to the beat of 'Stayin' Alive' by the Bee Gees. It's amazing how accurately we can recall that tempo at around 100 beats per minute (which incidentally falls into the range for the Italian tempo marking Andante).

Italian tempo markings are highly variable and often times a conductor or musician chooses their tempo marking for a piece based on other factors besides just the written directive, it could be a previous rendition or the aesthetic of the ensemble. This list of Italian tempo markings and TV shows whose theme songs fall into each range isn't intended as an exact guide ~ but rather as a fun and informative list for approximating tempo markings without having to use a metronome. 

1. Largo 

Between 40-60 bpm (beats per minute) the Italian tempo marking 'Largo' means to play broadly. Clocking in at a lazy 48 bpm is 'Secret' a Waltz by The Pierces and the theme song from Pretty Little Liars' and just missing the cut for Largo at about 64 bpm, but still slower than Adagio, is 'Temptation Sensation (Haute Couture)' by Heinz Keissling the theme from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

2. Adagio

Literally translating to 'at ease' Adagio is about 66-76 bpm and communicates to the musician that they should play slow and stately. Coming in slow at 77 bpm, just over but we'll give it to them, is 'Teardrop' by English trip hop group Massive Attack, the theme from House.

3. Andante

Andante, which translates to walking pace (you might have guessed this if you're familiar with the Spanish verb andar), has a high variability. The tempo marking can mean anything from a slow stroll to a power walk, between 76-108 bpm. Two TV theme favorites, clocking in at about 100 bpm, are 'I'll Be There For You' by The Rembrandts from Friends and 'Yo Home to Bel-Air' by DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

4. Moderato

Moderato, or moderately as you may have guessed, is between 108-120 bpm and it is faster than you might think! About twice as fast as the ticking clock, this is the tempo for the theme from Shonda Rimes' beloved show Grey's Anatomy. 'Cosy in the Rocket' by the experimental electronica band Psapp comes in at an uptempo 119 bpm. Musicians ~ special bonus if you can figure out how to count the first 20 seconds of this track ~ tell us in the comments!

5. Allegro

Fast, quickly, and bright, the tempo for Allegro is between 120-168 bpm and it literally translates to mean cheerful in Italian. There is a big difference in tempo between 120 and 168 but two themes that clock in in the middle are 'Hey Beautiful' the theme from How I Met Your Mother at 134 bpm, and the theme from Family Guy composed by Seth McFarlane and Walter Murphy at 146 bpm.

6. Presto

Presto, between 168-200 bpm, is very fast. So fast, that themes in this tempo range cannot be heard on television. In fact, any shows whose themes have surpassed 168 bpm have been taken off the air. Ok, I'm totally kidding, but I couldn't find a single show whose theme had a tempo marking that fell into the 168-200 bpm range. The closest show I found at a staggering 158 bpm, was the theme from Batman composed by Neal Hefti. So feel free to use 'faster than Batman' as a reference tempo for Presto.

What did you think of our list? Feel free to add your own TV show themes in the comments and please let us know if you find a show with a theme faster than Batman!

Fun n' Funny Vocal Warm-Ups for Singers

1. Dogs Are Better than People

This warm up is based on the first five notes of the major (Ionian) scale (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7).

Solfege: Do - Fa - Re - Sol - Mi - Do

Words: Dogs are better than people.

2. Ghosts Always Roam Inside My House

This warm up is based on the first five notes of the natural minor (Aeolian) scale (1, 2, b3, 4, 5, b6, b7).

Solfege: Do - Re - Me - Re - Sol - Fa - Me - Re - Do

Words: Ghosts always roam inside of my house.

3. I am Freezing in the Cold

This warm up is based on the first five notes of the Lydian scale (1, 2, 3, #4, 5, 6, 7).

Solfege: Do - Mi - Sol - Fi - Mi - Re - Do

Words: I am freezing in the cold. 

4. Pumpkin Spice Lattes

This warm up is based on the first five notes of the Major (Ionian) scale (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7).

Solfege: Do - Sol - Re - Sol - Mi - Fa - Sol - Fa - Mi - Re - Do

Words: Pumpkin spice lattes are good (or bad!) for the soul.

5. McDonald's

This warm up is based on the first five notes of the natural minor (Aeolian) scale (1, 2, b3, 4, 5, b6, b7).

Solfege: Do - Re - Me - Mi - Sol - Mi - Do

Words: I eat McDonalds all year.

6. Let's Go to the Beach

This vocal warm up is based on the major (Ionian) scale (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7). 

Solfege: Do - Mi - Re - Fa - Mi - Sol - Fa - Mi - Re - Do

Words: Let's go to the beach and play with a ball.

7. Fingernails

This vocal warm up is based on the major (Ionian) scale (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7). 

Solfege: Do - Re - Sol - Do - Mi - Sol - Fa - Re - Do

Words: Fingernails are growing all the time. 

Our Top 5 Blind Audition Picks Nights 1 and 2 on Season 14 of The Voice

1. Kyla Jade

Age 33 | Nashville, TN

With by far the best technical performance between both nights, Kyla Jade, is no stranger to the stage and she wowed with a powerful cover of Aretha Franklin’s “SeeSaw” (Watch the performance HERE).  Having sung background vocals for the likes of Jennifer Hudson and Patti LaBelle, Jade’s adept phrasing and her perfect sense of contrast between voice parts make her the singer to beat this season. 

What will her challenge be? Taking her place at the front of the stage. She has sung background vocals for some powerhouse female vocalists and has said she is comfortable supporting them in the background. Can Blake help her gain the confidence to step up and claim the spotlight?

2. Pryor Baird

Age 35 | Nashville, TN

It isn’t hard to tell that Baird is comfortable on the stage and that he has been playing in a Nashville cover bands for years. His clean guitar licks and a naturally rough vocal tone set him apart and turned all four judges chairs during his performance of Ray Charles' "I Don't Need No Doctor" (Watch the performance HERE). His confidence and equal ability both as a singer and guitarist will give him a leg up in the competition and we can’t wait to hear what he'll sing next.

Challenges? The biggest question for Baird is whether he and coach Blake can step out of the rough and tumble country blues to deliver surprises. Part of this competition is demonstrating your development as an artist and keeping the audience guessing!

3. Drew Cole

 Age 25 | Los Angeles, CA

With about the style you’d expect of a male, singer-songwriter, in his mid-twenties living in Los Angeles, Cole’s vocal talent is anything but average. With a crisp tone that can be heard easily in the arrangement and a fearless falsetto he will be competitive this season. His confidence in his vocal style which he showcased in an all-his-own performance of Marcy Playground’s “Sex and Candy” (Watch the performance HERE) cemented him as one of the top artists in the competition. 

What will his challenge be? Vulnerability. Having cut his teeth in the Los Angeles bar-scene, Cole is tough and unafraid of a challenge, but will he and Adam be able to break down his walls so that he can deliver an emotionally vulnerable performance to the audience?

4. Jaclyn Lovey

Age 16 | Placerville, CA

This 16-year old brought her all to last night’s blind auditions, sailing through a beautiful rendition of Elvis’ “Can’t Help Falling in Love” (Watch the performance HERE) without so much as a flicker of self-doubt. With gorgeous, fine-tuned phrasing and her baby-doll voice, Lovey is the picture of sweetness. Though don’t let her shimmery tone fool you, slow songs like this one are a challenge to sing and Lovey’s flawless, practiced performance demonstrates that she is a competitor who has come to win. 

What will her challenge be? Jaclyn is young and less experienced than some of the other artists this season. Will Alicia be able to help her develop her range so she can hold her own against the other singers in the competition? She has to have a big range in order to wow the audience performance after performance.

5. Britton Buchanan

Age 17 | Sanford, NC

It’s hard to be poised on the stage at 17 but Britton Buchanan is just that. Showcasing a rich, textured baritone with an emotive performance of Ray LaMontagne’s “Trouble” (Watch the performance HERE) we’ll admit we are a bit smitten with this young man.

What will his challenge be? Range. This youngin' is also team Alicia and we can only hope that she is able to push him to a place where he can hold his own against the more experienced singers. 

 

Do you agree with our list? Let us know who you think is going to win this season in the comments below! 

The Voice airs on NBC but you can also watch it on Hulu

~ Tune in to watch episode 3 on Monday, March 5th at 8pm EST ~  

the 5 Minute Cure for Tone Deafness

What is the cure for Tone Deafness you ask? Pitch matching

5 Minutes of pitch matching a day and I guarantee you'll be singing along to your favorite songs more easily than ever before! 

 

Women, start with middle C on the piano. (See below if you're not sure where to find middle C.) Hit the key, sing the note in your head, and match the pitch with your voice. You can sing on 'la' or 'da' or another syllable. 

Set a timer for 5 minutes and practice hitting black and white keys between G3 and G4 and trying to match the pitches with your voice. If you practice 5 minutes a day for a week you'll be a better singer in no time!

Women's Range

Men, start with the C below middle C on the piano. Hit the key, sing the note in your head, and match the pitch with your voice. You can sing on 'la' or 'da' or another syllable. 

Set a timer for 5 minutes and practice hitting black and white keys between G2 and G3 and trying to match the pitches with your voice. If you practice 5 minutes a day for one week you'll be a better singer in no time!

Men's Range

 

Don't have a piano at home? No problem! Click HERE to use a virtual one. If you aren't familiar with the note names go to 'Menu' and click 'Key Assist Off' to turn on the cheat sheet.

Women, ‘middle C’ is the ’t’ key. You'll be matching pitch between between G3 (‘w’) and G4 (‘o’).

Men, the C below ‘middle C’ is the ‘8’ key. You'll be matching pitch between G2 (‘5’) and G3 (‘w’).

 

Want to learn about the piano?

Piano

Middle C is the white key to the left of the grouping of two black keys below the piano manufacturer's mark.

*Every white key to the left of a grouping of 2 black keys is a 'c' on the piano. Every white key to the left of a grouping of three black keys is an 'f'.

 

Piano Keys Note Names

 

What notes are you singing? Curious about what notes you are playing and pitches you are matching? Check out this diagram. 

 

 

Pro Tip

If you are having trouble getting started, try speaking a sentence and listening to the sound of your voice. Not everyone’s range is the same but commonly women’s speaking voice is between G3 (‘w’) and C4 (’t’) and men's is between G2 (‘5’) and C3 (‘8’). Notes in this range will be easier to find because you’re used to speaking on these pitches.

Have fun & good luck!