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Changing Tempos

Discussion in 'Recording' started by ClarkJaman, Jun 23, 2014.

  1. ClarkJaman

    ClarkJaman Active Member

    Hey guys,

    (This isn't about microphones but I didn't know where else to put it)

    When you are tracking music, do you ever make a tempo track that slightly changes the BPM? For example, the verses will be 124bpm, the chorus at 126bpm, and the bridge at 128? Sometimes different parts of a song will feel better at different tempos, and I'm often tempted to create a tempo track like this.

    Pax Caritas et lol,
  2. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Occasionally... very occasionally. I'm assuming that you're talking about doing this to emulate the push-pull of a natural live performance?

    Although you have to have more than just a few measures doing this to achieve that. I had a client once who wanted to drop in one measure with a 1 BPM difference... tried explaining to her that it wasn't going to make any difference, but she insisted, and being the pro that I was, I dropped in the tempo change from 112 to 113... for one measure. I will say in all honesty that dropping that tempo change in to "improve" her song was a futile task... she had many more problems that were far more noticeable - like general lack of talent - that needed correcting other than what a miniscule BPM change at one measure would accomplish. LOL

    I've never done this... but I've often thought that perhaps the best way to accomplish the natural "drift" of an ensemble performance would be to randomly throw in alternating tempos of 1 BPM, example, every three measures, insert a tempo change of 1 or 2 BPM differences, randomly. I've never done it though. I prefer to just stay in tempo when I'm doing my solo stuff where I'm overdubbing all the parts.

    Setting up a template like you mentioned wouldn't be hard - just time consuming. And it begs the question of how useful it would be across the board... if you started at 110, with a change on a chorus of 112, back to 110 for a verse, then a bump up to 113 for a bridge or pre chorus or something, then any future project you are working on would be locked down to those tempos, right?

    I dunno, Clark... Seems a bit restrictive to me...
  3. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    what's the big deal ....? try it and see what you get.
  4. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    The only reason I see you wanting this would be for excitement or effect. I get that via performance. Nothing I hate more than being out of tune with a band is, playing to speeders when I've got it all under control (playing behind, on top or ahead of the beat). It not necessary imho.
  5. ClarkJaman

    ClarkJaman Active Member

    I think I'm just going to try recording all at one tempo. I tried this tempo jumping method one time and the recording didn't turn out well, mostly for other reasons.

    Why would a different project be locked on those tempos? I'm not sure how it works in other DAWs, but in Pro Tools and Cubase I've made tempo tracks like this in only a couple minutes.
  6. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I've been working with click tracks for almost 4 decades. Nothing more beautiful than playing with people that are able to create excitement without speeding. I know there are many "organic" musicians who think a metronome is harnessing their creative flow, that would be the ones I never work with. ;)

    Now, I do speed in and out of a grid, but i never do it to change the tempo per-say.
    Also, things like delay settings work real sweet when they are locked to the grid. Maybe your DAW changes all that with the speed changes, but then again, that is one more process you are doing ITB, that I wouldn't.

    I think this next decade ( thanks to us here too) are exposing the setbacks of processing ITB , changing some of that curve on how we use our DAW.
    Think the DAW as a capture devise more than a tool to do things humans can't do in the real world. I also think like that first, this way, I get the best I can in the start, less plastic after.
    Now, I would completely disregard what i just said if you are working in animation and cutting edge creative art.

    But, do whatever you need to do. Its only music.

    imho :)
  7. ClarkJaman

    ClarkJaman Active Member

    I ended up not changing it on the chorus, sticking with 142bpm throughout the whole song until the bridge, and then I bumped it up to 144bpm. And then back down to 142bpm for the outro, but then there was a downward ramp for the last few bars down to 130bpm. It was just one of those songs that needed attention on the tempo. Hopefully it will turn out. The other two songs I recorded scratch tracks for today I used fixed tempos.

    What do you mean by this? I don't understand. :/
  8. natural

    natural Active Member

    I'm kinda with audiokid on this one, although it depends on what you're doing.
    If you're playing live, you shouldn't need to alter the tempo on a measure by measure basis. Good players can play around the clik. They can rush it when it needs to, or lay back behind. There's no law that says the click needs to be strictly adhered to. (this I believe is what audiokid was talking about)
    If it's a typical rock/pop type piece, it's probably best to keep it at one tempo. If it's some kind of fusion or odd time signature type stuff, then different sections in different tempos is perfectly fine and is done all the time. Sometimes it is a little time consuming to plan out the tempo change and clik before hand,
    but it's nothing like trying to overdub to a track where the rhythm section played live and adjusted their tempo instinctively. (often by watching each other)
    You'll waste infinitely more time trying to match their feel, and it rarely sounds like it should.
    So yeah, if you bump up the bridge section a couple of bpm's and it sound good, you're fine. No one should have a problem with that.
  9. ClarkJaman

    ClarkJaman Active Member

    I generally avoid using a click track at all when playing live, unless you need to use one because you're mixing pre-recorded tracks with the live music. And even then, I would prefer if only the drummer had the click in his ear, but the drummer has to be a pretty decent musician to keep the whole band on the click. That being said, I often pre-record my own drum tracks and have fun playing live with those.
  10. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    The day a band ask you to sync a midi arrangement with a wavy drummer is the day you fall in love with the click !! ;)
    Being a drummer for 31ys, I like to play with a click even live. It shaders away a lot of arguments and accusations and it makes the songs reflect the energy that was decided at rehersal. I band members do a lot of mistakes but are on time with a click, copy/paste may save the day..
  11. ClarkJaman

    ClarkJaman Active Member

    pcrecord, does everyone in the band have the click in their ears live? Or just you (the drummer)?
  12. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    pcrecord will surely add some good info here too.

    I love a solid drummer and cannot play with one who is negatively effected over excitement. The drummer is the metronome.

    But, you lock to whomever is first on session (the studio) setting the speed or feel. Otherwise, its a mess like a bad ADDA clock doing the round trip, lol. So, the click is dependent on the production and "the way it goes" after the fact.

    Here is a funny experience I love sharing :)
    I was in a band ( more like a happening hehe) that went through 11 drummers in 10 weeks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The leader of the band was so so friken done by end, I swear I saw his skin tone change hehe. He kept firing drummers and it got ugly. Management was bending over backwards to get this guys music done. We could not believe what was happening.

    Anyway, a drummer should be able to control the sessions and not be effected when others are pushing and pulling. The drummer should be able to accent whats appropriate and be that click. On the other hand, some musicians are loose cannons and never get back to the pocket so, I feel for drummers having to put up with the BS too..

    Drummer are there to punch and pull the reins without getting in the way. The Gods of ROCK!
    pcrecord likes this.
  13. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    Usually, the only one having the click is the drummer.
    A few conditions are needed :
    1- he has experience following a click and he(she) is constant ; meaning if he plays early or late on the click, he does so at every beat.
    2- Every member of the band thrust him(her) and they all follow the groove stated by the drummer.
    3- following the click does not transform the drummer in a robot.
    4- You can still bend and strech time up to a certain point but only if you don't have sequenced instruments
    5- everyone knows the difference between leading time and the band. If the drummer isn't the band leader, doesn't mean he cannot be the rithme leader ;)

    If any of those aren't there, the band is up to fail. Adding the click to all their headphones may help.. but with some personality it's a musical suicide !!
    bigtree likes this.
  14. ClarkJaman

    ClarkJaman Active Member

    pcrecord, I feel like that post could be expanded into a book worth reading.
  15. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    A book on band members personality dynamics and recipe for succes or desaster.. Insteresting idea !! ;)
  16. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Im a little late to this, but there are some songs I've recorded for bands, where different parts were actually different tempos, not just half time, double time excetera. In the case I'm thinking of, the intro was like 10 bpm or so slower than the rest of the song. This also happens sometimes in breakdowns and head banging parts, where they are not the same tempo, as the rest.

    I use digital performer, so when were cutting scratch tracks to get the tempos, the band plays to a click up until the tempo change, then I stop it at that point, add a tempo change, and repeat if necessary. This is after trying it all to one tempo, cuz it's honestly really annoying, and often times the bands don't know if it truly is a different tempo, or they just play it a little fast. So it's important to figure that out, before going thru the process. More often than not, after a couple of tries, they usually just end up keeping it one tempo, but not always.

    The thing that is difficult is punching in, which is usually coming off a drum fill, or cymbal crash. So the drummer has get used to anticipating the tempo change. And also the beat in between the tempo changes is important. As in where on the conductor track you put it. For instance, in a 4/4 song, you have the option of changing the tempo on the four of the measure, or the one on the new one. This is very important the bigger the difference between the 2 tempos. Say for the sake of ease of me trying to explain this that the tempo of "section 1" is a beat evry half second, and "section 2" beat is every second (obviously this example is could be done w the same tempo, but imagine it's every second and a third or something not evenly divisible).

    Ok. So when your changing tempos, if on the conductor track it's on beat 4 of section 1, the pause between them would be one second, or the length of a beat at the new tempo. If the change in the conductor track happens on beat 1 of the next section, the pn the pause between the 2 sections, would be 1/2 second or the time of one beAt, at section ones tempo.

    My probably confusing explanation is trying to say that there are two options for when the tempo change occurs, and it is integral to the feel of the song. If they're havering hard time, I will do a count in, at the new tempo, and edit the pieces together. So maybe the drummer will do section a, let the click change get the feel for 8 clicks and go.
  17. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    Kmetal : Pretty nice way to do it !

    When a drastic tempo change is needed, I ask 2 band member (usually the drummer and a guitar player or bass player) to play the song to a the same click for the whole song and indicate were the tempo change will occure. While recording I add markers to the project. Once finished, I make all the tempo change at once and we're ready for the band. I must admit I sometime use Kmetal's technic when the musicians aren't able to play the song at the same speed.. ;) but I try not to have the whole band do it. It sometime leads to argumentations, but that's another story ;)
    kmetal likes this.
  18. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

    I usually record a guide track - a stereo direct to disk recording of everyone playing together, then I produce a tempo track if it's obvious the tempo flows a lot, and many songs do - some quite a bit, with maybe a gentle push in the tempo into the chorus, or maybe pulling back for the second verse. Sometimes even on sections where the tempo seems static, it isn't. Cubase has a useful tempo mapping function and looking at the up and down makes you think sometimes. Once the tempo is mapped so the clicks follow it, then for people to play to, they can have the rough mix, or a click, or both. Having a project that isn't tempo mapped really annoys me when somebody asks for the music to remind them what they played - without the tempo map, the bars make no sense. I tend to always record the MIDI out of the keys, if they're being used - really comes in handy.
  19. ClarkJaman

    ClarkJaman Active Member

    I love the Cubase tempo track. It also has the ramp/jump option which is useful.

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