Ritenuto (riten. or rit.) – an immediate, or sudden, reduction in speed or tempo
To remember what ritenuto means, use the following mnemonic:
Please believe that I have written you too (ritenuto) but the postal service strike may suddenly slow down my letter.
Another way to remember this is:
She had written a new song with her toes (ritenuto), but it took ages; writing like this suddenly reduces the speed you can write.
Examples of ritenuto in a sentence
The musical piece moves from fast to slow so suddenly it takes the audience by surprise: that is the effect of ritenuto.
In film scores, ritenuto is an accepted technique used to signal a change of atmosphere to cinemagoers.
The ritenuto - a sudden change from the upbeat to the slow and dreamy - was quite abrupt; on the dance floor, there was an inevitable awkwardness while everybody adjusted.