beats per minute

Learn about beats per minute, and how BPM is used and written in sheet music.

Metronome marks on sheet music, indicating tempo.
A BPM of 112 may be expressed with the terms moderato, allegro, or allegretto. Image © Brandy Kraemer

Definition of BPM:

Beats per minute (abbreviated BPM) is the number of times a beat is repeated in one minute. BPM expresses the tempo of a song, and is indicated in notation above the very first measure:

  1. As metronome marks:
    • ♪=224*
    • M.M.=112 (M.M. stands for “Maelzel's Metronome”)
  2. With tempo terms:
    • Allegro means to play quickly, at about 112-160 BPM.


* The little music note in the metronome mark may be written in different note-lengths depending on which note-length holds the main beat.

An eighth note marked with 224 BPM is the same as a quarter note marked with 112 BPM; learn why:


Continue With Rhythm & Tempo

  How to Read Time Signatures
  Learn About Simple & Compound Meter


Musical Symbols:
Staff & Barlines
The Grand Staff
Key Signatures
Time Signatures

Note Lengths
Dotted Notes
Music Rests
Tempo Commands

Dynamics & Volume
8va & Octave Commands

Repeat Signs
Segno & Coda Signs
Pedal Marks
Piano Chords


Beginner Piano Lessons
 ▪  Notes of the Piano Keys
 ▪  The Point Of Double-Sharps
 ▪  Finding Middle C on the Piano
 ▪  Essential Piano Fingering
 ▪  Comparing Major & Minor Chords

Getting Started on Keyboards
 ▪  Sitting Correctly at the Keys
 ▪  Playing Piano vs. Electric Keyboard
 ▪  How to Buy a Used Piano

Piano Chords
 ▪  Chord Types & Symbols in Sheet Music
 ▪  Root Notes & Chord Inversion
 ▪  Diminished Chords & Dissonance
 ▪  Essential Piano Chord Fingering

Piano Care
 ▪  Everyday Piano Care
 ▪  Safely Whiten Your Piano Keys
 ▪  When to Tune a Piano
 ▪  Piano Room Temps & Humidity Levels

Piano Recitals & Performing
 ▪  What to Eat & Drink Before a Performance
 ▪  Concert Etiquette for the Audience
 ▪  Warming Up for a Piano Performance
 ▪  Overcoming Mistakes On Stage

♫ Musical Quizzes!
 ● Identify the Piano Keys
 ● Key Signature Quiz
 ● Note Length & Rest Quiz (U.S. or U.K. English)
 ● Grand Staff Notes Quiz
 ● Time Signature & Rhythm Quiz

Illustrated Piano Chords:
AbmajAbma7Abma9  |  AbminAbm7Abm9  |  AbdimAb°7  |  AbaugAb+7  |  Absus2Absus4


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Your Citation
Kraemer, Brandy. "beats per minute." ThoughtCo, Jun. 29, 2017, Kraemer, Brandy. (2017, June 29). beats per minute. Retrieved from Kraemer, Brandy. "beats per minute." ThoughtCo. (accessed November 22, 2017).