Definition of rubato in English:


Line breaks: ru¦bato
Pronunciation: /rʊˈbɑːtəʊ

noun (plural rubatos or rubati /-ti/)

  • (also tempo rubato) The temporary disregarding of strict tempo to allow an expressive quickening or slackening, usually without altering the overall pace.
    More example sentences
    • There had been some flaccid rubatos in the preceding Allegro Assai and there were some underplayed syncopations in the Minuet and Trio but the cheer it received was well earned.
    • Performers who play together on a regular basis always time their entry cues precisely and instinctively, shaping and moulding their tempi and rubati accordingly.
    • How do you actually control your rubati without disturbing the flow, so that it knits into the textures, rhythmic line and overall character?


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  • Performed with rubato: a rubato phrase
    More example sentences
    • Author C. Palmer examined three aspects of timing in piano performance that are not explicitly notated in the score: chord asynchronies, rubato patterns and legato/staccato patterns.
    • He also creates a rubato feel, carefully notated by his tempo indications.
    • Philip warns, however, that while references to rhythmic freedom are common they ‘give no positive information about what actually happens to the rhythm during a rubato passage’.


Italian, literally 'robbed'.

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