Tempo markings can be found in the Tempo palette of the Basic and Advanced workspaces. They are supplied as metronome marks, but can be subsequently edited to display any tempo or expression you want. Playback tempo can be varied throughout the score by using multiple tempo markings, visible or invisible.
Add a tempo marking
Use any of the following methods:
- Select a note or rest and press the keyboard shortcut Alt+T.
- Select a note or rest, and from the menu bar chose Add→Text...→Tempo Marking.
- Select a note or rest and double-click an appropriate metronome mark in the Tempo palette;
- Drag-and-drop a metronome mark from the Tempo palette directly onto a note or rest.
Note: If a tempo marking is applied from the menu or using a keyboard shortcut, the beat note automatically follows the time signature. The advantage of applying from a palette is that you can chose which beat note to use.
Edit tempo text
The text of a tempo marking can be edited by double-clicking the mark to enter Text edit mode. The overall text style, as well as the text properties of individual markings, can also be changed as required.
Score playback usually follows the tempo marking applicable for that section (in bpm = beats per minute). This can be changed simply by altering the metronome number (see Edit tempo text). Further text can also be added as desired. e.g.
The tempo dictated by the metronome mark persists even if replaced altogether by an expression (such as Andante, Moderato etc.) during text editing .
If, for whatever reason, you want to set the playback tempo independently of the displayed tempo marking:
- Select the tempo mark;
Untick "Follow text" in the "Tempo Marking" section of the Inspector;
Set the desired playback tempo in the "Tempo" field underneath.
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.