#1
A question regarding the tempo of a song.

Im trying to transcribe a song onto a sheet of music and I cant get the tempo down.
I set the metronome to 105 and the tempo sounds great for about 10 measures before it starts to slowly go off beat. I tried 104 and its to slow. 106 and its to fast.

Is the song just recorded badly or is the tempo of a song supposed to break off like this?
#2
Songs usually aren't recorded to a specific tempo (i.e to the exact second). They're just played at whatever tempo feels natural. The song you're trying to transcribe may well be at a tempo of 105.43543 bpm. Imagine if you recorded a song - would you play it at a specific tempo (along to a click track)? Usually not.
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#3
Quote by Jiimmyyy
Songs usually aren't recorded to a specific tempo (i.e to the exact second). They're just played at whatever tempo feels natural. The song you're trying to transcribe may well be at a tempo of 105.43543 bpm. Imagine if you recorded a song - would you play it at a specific tempo (along to a click track)? Usually not.


So how do they set the metronome for tracking?
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#5
Quote by Jiimmyyy
Songs usually aren't recorded to a specific tempo (i.e to the exact second). They're just played at whatever tempo feels natural. The song you're trying to transcribe may well be at a tempo of 105.43543 bpm. Imagine if you recorded a song - would you play it at a specific tempo (along to a click track)? Usually not.


I see so for the tempo of this song I would just write down 105 because thats the closest I can get it to rounded off. I didn't know that when you recorded a song its wasn't supposed to be at the exact tempo. I always thought that everything had to be perfect tempo and on time. I have a few things recorded and I've always played along to a click track for the best timing possible.

Sorry if this seems like a rookie question to ask but how do musicians keep the tempo when recording a song if they're not using a metronome? Is it best to go with the natural flow of a song or is it better to have an exact tempo?
#6
Quote by dannydawiz


Sorry if this seems like a rookie question to ask but how do musicians keep the tempo when recording a song if they're not using a metronome?



In some bands the drummer sets the tempo and the rest of the band play to that (Machine Head do this); in others every band member plays to a click track with an exact predetermined tempo, that is likely to be a whole number, for ease of transcribing.
#7
Quote by truiteleague
they don't....usually it's the drummer who set the tempo.

Are you kidding? Most all bands record to a click
#8
1) many artists record to metronomes to stay perfect. musicians of ALL levels of experience, whether they've been playing for decades or weeks.
2) some just never really thought to use a metronome, especially the sloppiest of classic punk bands, these musicians will almost always go off-beat during the recording, but it sounds fine to most listeners because all the instruments slow down or speed up at the same time, as long as the instruments aren't playing at different tempos the song shouldn't fall apart.
3) there are the extremely well-trained musicians who've played to metronomes all their lives and at some point stop recording to metronomes. its usually smarter to continue using metronomes no matter how experienced you are, but some people just see it as an inconvenience and it usually doesn't effect the recording that badly.

all 3 of these are common.
#9
Quote by TMVATDI
1) many artists record to metronomes to stay perfect. musicians of ALL levels of experience, whether they've been playing for decades or weeks.
2) some just never really thought to use a metronome, especially the sloppiest of classic punk bands, these musicians will almost always go off-beat during the recording, but it sounds fine to most listeners because all the instruments slow down or speed up at the same time, as long as the instruments aren't playing at different tempos the song shouldn't fall apart.
3) there are the extremely well-trained musicians who've played to metronomes all their lives and at some point stop recording to metronomes. its usually smarter to continue using metronomes no matter how experienced you are, but some people just see it as an inconvenience and it usually doesn't effect the recording that badly.

all 3 of these are common.

2 & 3 happen, but imo #2 sounds bad (sublime live albums drive me nuts) and you get to #3 via #1. I wouldnt say #2 happens too often in modern "big name" albums
Last edited by z4twenny at Oct 16, 2011,
#10
I remember trying to get the exact tempo down to a song once (I don't remember which) to try and do a drum loop in Fruity Loops to play to verbatim, and so I fiddled around with tempo to try to line it up to the album recording and I couldn't find the exact number. I think it may have been a Shins song. I guess they don't use a metronome when they record?
#11
Quote by burndttoast
I remember trying to get the exact tempo down to a song once (I don't remember which) to try and do a drum loop in Fruity Loops to play to verbatim, and so I fiddled around with tempo to try to line it up to the album recording and I couldn't find the exact number. I think it may have been a Shins song. I guess they don't use a metronome when they record?

I've done that with metal songs. Most of the time, there's a constant tempo (unless it's supposed to change), and it's a whole number. For example, after moving the clip around a bit so the start of the song lined up with the start of a bar, "Heart of Darkness" by Catamenia came out to 122 BPM, and the click was steady enough to cut it up and move bits of it around. And it sounded seamless.
So I guess it depends on the band. Metal bands generally seem to use a click track.
#12
Quote by z4twenny
Are you kidding? Most all bands record to a click


Often. Not always.

I've been in recording sessions where there was no click.

There are millions of ways to record. Click tracks are a great tool, but they can be a crutch, and the rigidy of a click can bring out the worst in some musicians, making the whole effect sound sterile. Obviously sometimes the drummer drums to a click and then you build up the track on top of that with individual tracks, but sometimes you don't - sometimes you record the rhythm section all together and just let them jam it out. Sometimes you even - gasp - record the vocal first, and then find ways to deal with the nearly-inevitable weird timing issues that are going to show up.

While I do think that most of the homogenized major label music being pushed out to mainstream radio is probably recorded to a click, that's really only a tiny chunk of the music being made out there today.

"No Rain" by Blind Melon is a song which is clearly not recorded with a click. (If you time it out you'll see that clearly it wasn't). Listen to that whole album and it's easy to understand why - they clearly cared more about feel and groove than precise timing.

Other songs may be hard to time because parts are not being played back at the speed they were recored. You see this on some Beatles tracks ("Rain" and "Paperback Writer," IIRC) and some Cream tracks, for example, but I think this is less common now when people are more likely to use digital effects to get unusual sounds rather than try to create them organically.
#13
Generally, tempo is actually very flexible. Many pieces of music have tempo markings such as "adagio," "lento," "vivace," "allegro," or "Andante" rather than "quarter note = [specific tempo]," which leaves a good bit of "wiggle room" for the musicians and/or conductor (if one is present). This is especially true in solo pieces, where tempo often fluctuates depending on the music and the performer's interpretation and expression of it. Also, many musicians tend to slow down or speed up a bit during performances because they simply don't have the tempo down exactly, aren't very skilled at maintaining, or don't want to maintain a steady tempo.

However, click tracks aren't uncommon, especially in popular music and film scores (all the instruments aren't recorded together at once in those sessions, or perhaps even on the same day), and many artists choose to use a metronome to steady themselves. Despite this, tempo is still inexact a lot of the time, though most professional musicians (especially drummers/percussionists) can have a specific tempo down to within milliseconds.

What you're experiencing sounds like minute fluctuations in tempo, as is often the case. I would recommend setting the tempo at 105 and leaving it, unless there are other sections where the tempo is obviously intended to change. The people who perform your arrangement won't refuse to play it if the time doesn't fluctuate exactly with the specific recording you used, so don't worry about it too much.

I hope this helps, and good luck to you.
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