how to determine the amount of time to play a piece of sheet of music?

how to determine the amount of time to play a piece of sheet of music

6 Answers

  • 2 months ago

    Difficult to determine without designated tempo markings on a sheet.

    Sometimes tempo is written in "metronome mark" or bpm (beats per minute), beats commonly referring to quarter-note. For example 𝅘𝅥=60 above the staff means that you're supposed to play 60 quarter-notes per minute, or 1 per second. Then you count bars including repetitions, multiply by measure to get how many beats are there in total and from there you can find the amount of time.

    Example: let tempo is 𝅘𝅥=100, measure is 4/4 and piece has 32 bars with 𝄇 in the end.

    The symbol 𝄇 means you're supposed to repeat twice, so there's 32x2=64 bars to play. Measure is 4/4 that is 4 beats (quarter-notes) per bar, that's 64x4=256 beats total. Tempo is 100 bpm so it takes 256/100=2.56 min or 2min 34sec to play it.

    In classical music, tempo is often designated in Italian words like "Moderato", "Allegro" without bpm so you need to guess the right bpm. Metronome is invented around 1815, so if you see bpm in sheets of Bach or Mozart (who lived earlier) it is certainly added later by someone else.

    Here are the most common descriptive markings roughly translated to bpm:

    Largo – broadly (40–60 bpm)

    Adagio – slowly (66–76 bpm)

    Andante – at a walking pace (76–108 bpm)

    Moderato – at a moderate speed (98–112 bpm) 

    Allegretto, also Allegro moderato - moderately fast (102–120 bpm)

    Allegro – fast (120–156 bpm)

    Vivace – lively and fast (156–176 bpm)

    Presto – very, very fast (168–200 bpm)

    "-issimo" means "even more", so Adagissimo is slower than Adagio, and Prestissimo is faster than Presto.

    Performing artist's impression of what is correct tempo may differ to some point, so for example in recordings that I have Arthur Rubinstein played Chopin's Nocturno No.2 (Op.9) in 04:26 while Vladimir Ashkenazy played the same piece in 4:03 so Rubinstein's version is about 10% slower.

    Attachment image
  • 2 months ago

    Everyone does not play at the same tempo. All sheet music is not the the same length. Why don't you time yourself as you play it. Why do you nave to determine how long it takes to play a song before you play it?

  • 2 months ago

    If the sheet music includes the tempo in BPM and assuming the tempo during the song doesn't change whatsoever or you don't modify the tempo to go a different speed than the designated tempo, it's just a little math.

    1. Take the BPM and divide it by the number of the designated notes per beat in each measure. This gives you the number of measures you'll play in one minute.

    2. Take the total measures and divide it by the number of measures you'll play in one minute. You now have the time it should take.

    For example:

    Let's say you're playing a song that has a tempo of 120 BPM. The quarter note gets the beat and the time signature is 4/4. The song has 90 measures.

    1. Take 120 (the tempo) and divide it by 4 (number of quarter notes in each measure). You will play 30 measures in one minute.

    2. Take 90 (total number of measures) and divide by 30 (number of measures per minute). The whole piece should take 3 minutes to play.

    A few things to note though:

    -You may choose to go a different tempo than the designated tempo, and this may alter your results. In this case, estimate the tempo you're using (via metronome) and go from there

    -During the song, there may be a part which changes tempo temporarily. In this case, add up all the measures with the same time signature together. So for example, add the number of 4/4 measures together and separate them from the number of 3/4 measures. Then, do the math and add the results and you'll get your time.

    Hope this made sense.

  • 2 months ago

    Not everybody plays a piece in the same amount of time.  It's ok to take a little longer to play something.

  • What do you think of the answers? You can sign in to give your opinion on the answer.
  • 2 months ago

    Are you asking how long you should study or work in a piece - or how long it should stay active in your repetoire - or what?  Please clarify so we can better help you.

  • Nick
    Lv 4
    2 months ago

    First thing= BPM, beats per minute

    2nd thing= time signature, beats per measure

    then you can just count the measures and do the math

Still have questions? Get answers by asking now.