1.11 alla breve

ES: alla breve, I: alla breve, F: alla breve, à la brève, D: Allabreve, alla breve NL: ?, DK: ?, S: ?, FI: ?.

[Italian: ‘on the breve’] Twice as fast as the notation indicates.

Also called in cut time. The name derives from mensural notation, where the tactus (or beat) is counted on the semibreve (the modern whole note). Counting ‘on the breve’ shifts the tactus to the next longest note value, which (in modern usage) effectively halves all note values.

In mensural notation, breves and semibreves can have a ternary relationship, in which case alla breve means thrice (not twice) as fast. In practice, this complication may not have mattered, since Gaffurius’s system of multiplex proportions makes it easy to explicitly state which proportion is needed.

See also

breve, hemiola, mensural notation, note value, proportion, whole note.

LilyPond Music Glossary v2.25.16 (development-branch).