AskDefine | Define rubato

Dictionary Definition

rubato n : a flexible tempo; not strictly on the beat

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. A tempo in which strict timing is relaxed, the music being played near, but not on the beat


Verb form


Extensive Definition

Tempo rubato (Italian stolen time) is a musical term for slightly speeding up or slowing down the tempo of a piece at the discretion of the soloist or the conductor. It was used frequently in music of the Romantic Period, and is especially common in piano music. It also requires the use of altering the relationships among the written note values and the played ones.
Rubato, even when not notated, is often used liberally by many singers for added musical effect by singing at a slightly different tempo than that of the accompaniment. Frédéric Chopin is well known for having used rubato (see Chopin and Rubato).
Franz Schubert and Alexander Scriabin also used rubato to bring emotion to their pieces.


For instance, if a piece of music had a quarter note followed by an eighth note, and the tempo was slowed down so the quarter note was as a sixteenth note tied to a quarter note, the eighth note would have to be sped up to a sixteenth note so as to make up for the lost time.
One perfect example of a piece including tempo rubato is Chopin's Heroic Polonaise.
Rubato is used to create contrast and a certain style and sound to a piece.

See also

External Links


rubato in German: Rubato
rubato in Spanish: Rubato
rubato in French: Rubato
rubato in Korean: 루바토
rubato in Indonesian: Rubato
rubato in Italian: Rubato
rubato in Hebrew: רובטו
rubato in Dutch: Rubato
rubato in Japanese: テンポ・ルバート
rubato in Norwegian: Rubato
rubato in Polish: Rubato
rubato in Portuguese: Tempo rubato
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