With a gradual slowing of tempo

"Ritardando" is an Italian musical term that indicates a gradual slowing down of tempo. It is often abbreviated as "rit." or "ritard." The term is derived from the Italian verb "ritardare", which means "to delay" or "to slow down".

When a passage or a piece of music is marked with "ritardando", it instructs the performer to gradually decrease the tempo, creating a sense of slowing down and relaxation. The gradual nature of ritardando allows for a smooth transition and an expressive interpretation of the music.

Ritardando can be indicated by the term itself written above the staff or by specific musical symbols, such as a rallentando sign (a gradual tapering line) or a ritardando mark (a dashed line with "rit." or "ritard." written above it). The extent and speed of the ritardando are typically left to the interpretation and musicality of the performer.

Ritardando is often used to add expressive and emotional qualities to music. It can create a sense of anticipation, intensify climactic moments, or bring out the beauty of a melodic line. It is a dynamic and flexible tool that allows performers to shape the phrasing and overall interpretation of a musical passage.

Example of Ritardando

Ritardando Example