What Is the Meaning of Presto in Music?

Presto tempo means “very fast, very quick” and it is classified as a very upbeat tempo in music. It ranges from 168 to 200 beats per minute. In Italian, presto means “quickly” or “rapidly” and in English, presto often appears as an instruction for tempo.

In reference to sheet music, tempo markings for tempo are not simply words or expressions, but a tempo must be indicated with an accompanying tempo marking.

In music notation, the tempo is often written at the start of a piece to help musicians coordinate their playing or practice. The tempo marking also helps to indicate to other musicians whether the tempo should be taken “slowly” (and conversely, whether it should be taken “quickly” or “presto”).

Tempo has several meanings, but it is primarily a tool for instructing and directing an ensemble. When musicians perform music at the same tempo, they play more accurately and quickly than if they attempted to follow the tempo markings exactly.

A highly skilled musician can play music considerably faster or slower than the pace marking implies.

A tempo is usually connected to a piece’s construction. Tempos with a high speed may include passages that are not played or sung as rapidly, while tempos with a slower tempo may feature sections that are performed or sung at a higher rate than the overall pace of the music. It is important to consider tempo markings when learning new music because many composers will indicate tempo changes within their work.

The History Of Presto

The tempo marking originated in Italian classical music, but it appears in many other genres as well. Presto was first used as an instruction for tempo in the 18th century. The Italian word presto means “quickly” or “rapidly,” and tempo markings like presto are one of the most important tempo indicators in music.

The tempo marking presto is considered to be one of the fastest tempos that can be realistically performed by an ensemble. The tempo marking is commonly used with other tempo indications, such as allegro (which also means “fast”) or vivace (which means “lively”).

Presto is sometimes combined with another tempo indication. For example, presto ‘ma non troppo’ means that the tempo should be very fast but not overly so, and therefore will require some restraint by the performer. It is common to combine tempo markings in this way because tempo indications are relative. Tempo markings indicate tempo relationships, not absolute tempo.

Examples Of Presto Tempo

A good example and a very popular song are a-ha – “Take On Me”. A legendary song with a ‘presto’ tempo that took over the ‘80s. Others include Nickelback – “How You Remind Me”, Foo Fighters – “The Pretender”, Gorillaz – “Clint Eastwood”, Rage Against The Machine – “Killing In The Name”, and many more down the line.


The term “presto” was first used to describe a tempo indication in the 18th century. Presto is a very upbeat tempo that ranges from 168 to 200 beats per minute. The average tempo for most songs will be around 120 beats per minute, whereas this is very upbeat and energetic which could fit into genres like rock or punk music. As you can see by the examples of music, presto is also commonly used in pop music as well.