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Smaller Note Values Do Not Always Equal Greater Speed
 

Smaller Note Values Do Not Always Equal Greater Speed

Sixteenths are twice as fast as eighths; however, they may not indicate a fast piece. Bach often used sixteenths in very slow pieces. The final speed is determined by the tempo marking at the beginning of the piece. Here are the most common, some of which indicate mood as well as speed:

In a piece marked “prestissimo” a quarter note may be played very rapidly, whereas in a piece marked “largo” a sixteenth note would be played very slowly. However, the relationship between quarters, eighths, and sixteenths remains the same; it is just the tempo or basic beat of the piece that is increased or diminished.


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