Originally posted by Akira:
If Allegro means 'fast' and Moderato means 'medium speed,' what does "Allegro Moderato" mean? I was thinking its roughly about m.m. 120. Is that about right?
Akira - I think, as you say, you're about right -approximately anyway - but maybe the mm number should be just a little higher for Allegro Moderato - perhaps around 130 or so.
Allegro Moderato means moderately fast, if Allegro means fast, which it is generally taken to mean (it basically means "cheerful" in Italian).
Here's how I arrive at a mm setting of approximately 130 for Allegro Moderato.
Assume the entire range of possible tempos (tempi) for the vast majority of musical compositions (all genres) is roughly 30-230 (this is debatable, but plausible).
30 bpm is 1 every 2 seconds which is very slow indeed (a funeral dirge) and 230 bpm is fast enough to knock yourself out.
If, as is commonly designated and used, Slow Tempos are in roughly the range of from 30 to 80 bpm, Medium Tempos are approximately in the range of 80 to 120 bpm and Fast tempos are generally in the range from 120 to 230 bpm, then you can break this down even more finely by actual tempo indication within each of these three catagories as follows:
Slow Tempos (30-80 bpm)
Medium Tempos (80-120 bpm)
Fast Tempos (120-230 bpm)
Prestissimo (180 & up)
So, from the above "table" you can see that Allegro Moderato (moderately fast) would be about halfway in the Allegro range, which is about 130. That's how I arrived at this approximate metronome setting for that general tempo indicator.
Granted - the range of tempos within the 3 major groupings and within each indicator under those groupings are somewhat arbitrary. But as a rough, approximate, general guide - especially for beginning & maybe some intermediate students - it could be a useful guide. This is particularly true because you have a RANGE of tempos to work with for each indication, which allows for a certain degree of "artistic interpretation".
AS as advanced player or a professional you'll, of course, be able to define each of these indicators pretty much any way you want to (within reason) as Bruce has very nicely outlined above - assuming you adhere to wr's rather undiplomatic urgings to "get to it" - but until then, as a student, you need some sort of general guide to tempos (no matter how approximate) since they're such an essential element of your experience as a pianist and musician.
Good luck, enjoy yourself & have fun, and above all - keep up the "pace" (so to speak)!