Tempo range from higher to lower?

Would it be possible to allow the tempo range indicator to show a range from a faster to a slower tempo, e.g. crotchet = 54–52? This makes sense to me as suggesting a gradually slowing tempo, while the default 52–54 suggests a quickening tempo.

Ranges don’t indicate a gradual change in tempo from one extreme to another, but a … well, … range of values from which one is chosen by the performer.

If you want to indicate a slowing down, then there are other ways of doing that.


Strictly speaking, I would incline to agree with you, but not all composers see it like that. And I would think it would cost little or nothing in complexity of programming to allow the higher end of a tempo range to appear first.

There’s a story of a well-known UK composer, who once heard his music being played on the organ of a cathedral. He went up to the console and found a young organ scholar there.
“Lovely playing – but why are you doing it at that speed?”
“That’s the metronome mark in the score.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t pay any attention to that.”

I would never interpret 54-52 to indicate a slowing of tempo and I think you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who would.


If you really want to do this as Dorico works at the moment, you could perhaps use system-attached text, with a paragraph style that matches the formatting used for tempo marks, and use the Insert Music Symbol dialog to add the crotchet in the metronome mark.

The way I have seen fine tempo gradations such as this indicated is with single metronome values at the endpoints connected by a dashed line. Putting both numbers together does not show where the direction is supposed to end.

For a composer who insists, it is possible to write “♩= 54–52” in the tempo text field itself, if you use U+2669, the quarter note glyph from Unicode, which I’ve used here. (But Lillie’s solution is easier.)

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Thank you Lillie, I’ll try that.
As implied in my last post, this notation is not really my choice, but I can understand the choice: initial tempo 1/4 = c.56, then a direction ‘Slowing 1/4 = 56–54’, then ‘Slowing 1/4 = 54–52’. I’m prepared to impose editorial decisions if a composer’s notation is positively wrong or misleading, but that doesn’t seem to me to be the case here.

I’d be inclined to think of that as tempo indication rather than a metronome range as described by Dorico - the bracketed section an extension of the tempo text rather than a straight forward metronomic indication. It’s a marginal distinction, but whereas a metronome mark indicates definite tempo, this indicates the fine detail of a changing tempo.

Indication is very clear, but I should not like to perform it…

I agree with others. It is misleading!
Not least because it is an immediate tempo marking and here you want to use it as a gradual tempo change. Over what timespan do you expect the change to occur?
I might allow it if you used an arrow between the numbers, but I would prefer traditional rall/rit lines with an explicit end tempo.


At the risk of getting involved in this kind of discussion, to counter some of this criticism, I’m not sure that the range is a gradual tempo change? Is it not that each immediate tempo change is part of a slowing down (shown very deliberately within the score) and thus within the context of a series of new metronome marks showing a slowing down, the composer aesthetically wants the metronome mark range to be shown the opposite way round to usual?

That’s how I’ve read the OP - I accept that this still isn’t the most standard of notation, but it’s not quite the fact that the interpretation that some have offered (that the metronome mark is showing gradual tempo change within the range). Apologies if I am barking up the wrong tree here!

It would be more clear to me if the indication were simply “ gradually slowing to 52”. It really doesn’t need the present tempo (although I understand the desire to include it). Frankly, with that subtle of a tempo change, even “gradually slowing” would be sufficient. JMHO

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Yes, this is how I understand what the composer intends by reversing the usual order.