Tempo markings are used to indicate the pace of the music to the person reading the score, and they are also reflected in playback. It is possible to have multiple tempo markings at different points throughout a score.
To add a tempo marking:
- Select the note or rest where the tempo should be added.
- Open the Tempo palette and double-click a tempo marking style to add it to the selected note or rest. Alternatively, you can drag-and-drop a tempo from the palette directly onto a note or rest. You can also add a tempo from the main menu with Add → Text... → Tempo Marking or use the shortcut Alt+T, in which case it automatically will derive the note value to be used from the time signature.
Existing tempo markings can be changed by double-clicking the text to enter text edit mode.
A tempo marking's beats per minute can be changed by directly editing the text, if "Follow text" is selected in the Inspector and the tempo text is expressed in the form "note duration = number", as in this example, which includes the information "quarter note = 75":
If a tempo marking has been edited and no longer includes that information (for example, simply the word "Andante" with no number associated with it), click once on the marking to select it. Uncheck the "Follow text" checkbox in the Inspector, and you can manually set the number of quarter note beats per minute (BPM) that the tempo marking represents.
Note: Playback may be faster or slower if the tempo setting in the play panel is at a percentage other than 100%.
Ritardando and accelerando
Gradual tempo changes like ritardando ("rit.") and accelerando ("accel.") can be added to the score as system text, but currently don't have any effect on playback. The effect can be achieved, however, by stepping down the tempo using multiple invisible tempo markings. In this example, the tempo is decreased by 10 BPM on the first note of each measure, starting from 110 BPM before the ritardando. Each tempo change is made invisible by unchecking the Visible checkbox in the Inspector, so that only the ritardando shows on the printed score.
Fermatas, available in the Articulations and Ornaments palette, have a Time stretch property that can be set via the Inspector. By default, this property is set to 1.00. To have MuseScore play back a fermata for twice its normal duration, click on the fermata and set "Time stretch" to 2.00.
Display the play panel: View → Play Panel or F11 (Mac: fn+F11)
Change the percentage of the score's actual tempo using the Tempo slider
This setting is not saved in the score and will proportionally override all tempo markings set in the score. If you have multiple tempo markings in the score, the BPM (Beats per Minute) number displayed above the slider will depend on where in the score you are. For example, if you have a tempo of 80 BPM set, and the Play Panel is set to 120% of tempo, the actual tempo of the playback will be 96 BPM, which you can tell by the number displayed above the percentage in the Play Panel.
Note: BPM is always measured and displayed in quarter note beats per minute, regardless of the (denominator of the) time signature in effect.