Tempo, Rhythm, and Mood

The words tempo, rhythm, and mood are used here to describe the feature Aristotle called music or song. Greek tragedies were written in verse accompanied by music, and scholars believe that Aristotle’s term referred to this musical accompaniment as well as the rhythms of the verse itself. He observed that music and rhythm were capable of directly inciting emotions and he concluded that these emotions enhanced the dramatic potentials of plays. From this idea he deduced that “the music of the language” is one of the six basic elements of drama.

Although not many plays are written in verse today, plays continue to employ tempos, rhythms, and moods to express feelings just as verse and music do. The rhythmical cadences ...

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