Presto (It.: ‘ready’, ‘prompt’)
- David Fallows
(It.: ‘ready’, ‘prompt’)
Quick, fast; one of the earliest tempo designations in music. Nicola Vicentino (1555) gave it as the speed of a crotchet; and Banchieri used it specifically as a tempo mark in La battaglia (from L'organo suonarino, 1611) along with adagio, allegro and veloce. But on the whole it appears in other sources from the first half of the 17th century as the single alternative to the slow tempo, be it adagio, tardo or lento. In Giovanni Priuli's Sacrorum concentuum pars prima (Venice, 1618) there are no tempo marks for the motets nor for the two instrumental sonatas (nos.35 and 36); but all the instrumental canzonas are marked presto at the beginning, and most have the subsequent contrasting instruction tardo. This is typical and is very similar to the pattern of its uses by Michael Praetorius (Polyhymnia caduceatrix, 1619; Puericinium, 1621), by Monteverdi, whose Chiome d'oro...