Definition: The Italian musical command rubato, which literally means “robbed,” indicates that the performer may take liberties with the articulation, dynamics, or overall expressiveness of a song for dramatic effect. However, rubato most commonly affects tempo.

See ad libitum, a piacere, and espressivo.

Also Known As:

  • rubamento di tempo (It)
  • dérobé (Fr)
  • frei; nicht im strengen Zeitmass (Ger)
Pronunciation: ruh-bah'-doh (U.S.), roo-bah'-ttoh

Common Misspellings: robato, rubatto

Examples: Rubato is often seen in the musical phrase tempo rubato, meaning “stolen time.”

More Tempo Commands: