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Presto vs. Vivace — What's the Difference?

Edited by Tayyaba Rehman — By Fiza Rafique — Updated on May 8, 2024
Presto is a very fast tempo in music, while Vivace is a lively and brisk tempo, somewhat slower than Presto. Presto signifies extremely quick playing, whereas Vivace conveys a spirited, joyful speed.
Presto vs. Vivace — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Presto and Vivace


Key Differences

Presto indicates a tempo that's very fast, often quicker than allegro. It demands a rapid pace that challenges musicians' technical skills. Vivace, on the other hand, is slightly slower, representing a lively, energetic pace that infuses music with enthusiasm and brightness.
Presto generally has a tempo range between 168 and 200 beats per minute (bpm). Vivace, while still brisk, ranges between 140 and 168 bpm. Thus, Presto typically creates an exhilarating rush, while Vivace maintains a sense of liveliness with a more moderate briskness.
Presto is commonly used to signify urgency or to elevate excitement in a piece. Vivace, however, conveys spirited energy, enhancing joyful and optimistic passages.
In classical compositions, both terms guide musicians to infuse their playing with the desired tempo, evoking specific moods that align with the composer's intentions.

Comparison Chart

Tempo Range

168-200 bpm
140-168 bpm

Musical Speed

Very fast
Fast, lively

Mood Evoked

Urgency, excitement
Joyful, spirited

Contextual Use

Elevate urgency or climax
Brighten or energize passages

Degree of Challenge

High due to rapid pace
Moderate due to technical precision

Compare with Definitions


With urgent speed.
The orchestra shifted gears to Presto for the climactic finale.


Lively tempo.
The composer chose Vivace to open the overture with bright energy.


Very fast tempo.
The symphony's final movement was marked Presto, demanding great speed.


Quick but not hurried.
The piece required precise articulation due to its Vivace tempo.


In rapid succession.
The pianist played the arpeggios Presto, dazzling the audience with his agility.


Spirited pace.
The quartet played the Vivace movement with joyful enthusiasm.


(Music) In a very fast tempo, usually considered to be faster than allegro but slower than prestissimo. Used chiefly as a direction.


In a lively or vivacious manner. Used chiefly as a direction.


So suddenly that magic seems involved; right away.


(music) At a brisk, lively tempo.


A passage or movement that is performed presto.


(music) Played, or to be played, at a brisk, lively tempo.


(music) Very fast or quickly; a directive for the musician(s) to play in a very quick tempo.


(music) A piece to be played at a brisk, lively tempo.


; ta-da; voilà.
So I put my hand into the hat and presto! Out comes a rabbit!


Brisk; vivacious; with spirit; - a direction to perform a passage in a brisk and lively manner.


(poker slang) A pair of fives as a starting hand in Texas hold 'em.


(of tempo) very fast and lively


Quickly; immediately; in haste; suddenly.
Presto! begone! 'tis here again.


Lively, in music;
Play this section vivace!


Quickly; rapidly; - a direction for a quick, lively movement or performance; quicker than allegro, or any rate of time except prestissimo.


(of tempo) very fast


Presto! begone! 'tis here again


At a very fast tempo (faster than allegro)

Common Curiosities

How much faster is Presto compared to Vivace?

Presto is usually about 20-30 bpm faster than Vivace.

What musical mood does Presto convey?

It conveys urgency, excitement, or intense energy.

Can a piece transition from Vivace to Presto?

Yes, composers often transition between tempos to create dynamic shifts in a piece.

Is Presto more common in specific musical eras?

It is widely used in classical and baroque music, especially for fast-paced finales.

What are other common tempo markings close to Vivace?

Allegro is another fast tempo, similar in pace to Vivace but with less emphasis on spirited energy.

Does Presto always refer to a strict bpm range?

Not strictly, but it's generally accepted as being above 168 bpm.

Can Vivace describe sections within a single movement?

Yes, Vivace can mark sections within movements to indicate a desired tempo change.

What instrument ensembles often use Presto and Vivace markings?

Orchestras, chamber groups, and solo instruments like piano and violin.

Is it challenging to perform Presto?

Yes, due to the rapid pace, it requires technical skill and practice.

What does Vivace imply about the character of the music?

It suggests brightness, joy, and a sense of spirited playfulness.

Does Vivace require specific articulation?

Yes, due to its fast, spirited pace, precise articulation is often needed.

Is Vivace always used for fast-paced compositions?

Typically, but it emphasizes liveliness more than sheer speed.

How do musicians prepare for Vivace passages?

They focus on articulation, dynamics, and tempo control to maintain clarity.

Is Presto always suitable for orchestral compositions?

It depends on the desired intensity and musicians' skill level due to its demanding speed.

Can Presto and Vivace be mixed in a single movement?

Yes, composers sometimes blend tempos to create contrasting effects.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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