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Irrational Tempos to create Groove and Swing
Old 20th March 2011 | Show parent
  #61
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Nahuel's Avatar
 

If you want to choose you BPM with "feel" use the tap tempo.

I dunno but in my understanding it seems like we got the concept of swing and tempo somewhat mixed in this discussion... or maybe I didnt understand the point.
Old 20th March 2011
  #62
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by illacov View Post
Right around the time I moved to Philly I had an interesting discussion with Storyville about Irrational Tempo.

In a nutshell its my little coined phrase to describe my theory about the way people really interpret tempo and time.

Case in point, if you count 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 to get an idea of a tempo then I've hypothesized that you are not really doing equal divisions between the counts, but rather what your mind interprets as equal divisions.

So in other words, the spaces between the beats are not equal.

This means then that what you are interpreting as a whole tempo for example

Mr. X's version of 95 bpm is truly the AVERAGE of those 4 beats equating to what Mr. X thinks 95 bpm is.

But seeing as how those spaces between the beats are not equal units then we are not truly hearing 95 bpm in this example. Rather we are hearing 95.XXXXX bpm. Seriously.

Now to make this apply to hip hop music and for that matter digital recording, a computer does not think like you and I think. If you tell it 95 bpm it will do EXACTLY 95 bpm or 95 bpm to the best possible outcome it can via its clocking sync.

However the computer is making 95 bpm in 4/4 time as equal units versus your not so equal units. Which means that its not quite getting your version of 95 bpm so in essence its rounding off the slop and the funk into a perfect 95 bpm. YUCK

But what about all those decimal points that you were using to get your feel? What happens when you get rid of them? Well you lose some groove, you lose some funk. And often in hip hop we WANT THE FUNK, GOTTA HAVE THE FUNK NOW!

So in hip hop we have several workarounds to avoid the stiff computer like tight quantized feel.

Some examples include:

Groove templates

Swing Quantize

Recording with Quantize off

Quantizing with low percentage

Not quantizing at all.

Offsetting our playing intentionally

Sound familiar? If not welcome to my world If it does then follow along

Here's my crazy ass idea.

The next time you decide to make a drum beat (which I'm sure we all do) try setting the tempo with a decimal point after the whole number.

For example make your track at 91 bpm.

Do your usual thing with the drums etc...

Now change the tempo to 91.485 or 91.975 or 91.695.

You will hear some pretty significant changes in feel. As well this is going to change the way your system quantizes the midi you play in.

I know in Reaper you can literally see the differences in the size of the divisions of the grid changing when you mess around with those decimal points. It is quite a sight to see how far apart your kick and snare can drift when you mess around with the decimal points. Cool stuff!

Here's another little bit of Eureka btw.

These musicians we're sampling off these old recordings were playing to each other's timing, so several irrational tempos would all lock to each other and form a master average to get what they called tempo. But no click track, no metronome, just each other.

You can listen to several records that are all classified as say 72 bpm and they won't line up. No way. There's a clue in there that the 72 was a general REFERENCE but not an absolute.

In summation,

using the standard whole number tempo method is the way computers think and we have to implement a bunch of different work arounds to combat that

using the irrational tempo method is closer but not exactly to the way humans interpret tempos and offers the opportunity to get much more natural grooves and swinging drums when we play to these irrational tempos without all the work arounds.

I have been doing this for the last year or so with Reaper and recall in the old MPC60 days that I used to see alot of 97.32 bpm and 94.5 bpm tracks but not so much anymore.

I really think that this theory applies ALSO to live musicians btw. I've noticed that drummers don't like these hard tempos that computer click tracks spit at them and would be much more comfortable with the irrational tempos. Yes I have worked with plenty of guys who can play to click tracks, but even a drummer with tight timing is not playing as absolute a tempo as a computer defines it to be.

This also applies to hip hop music because if you are playing to a click when you sequence drums (like playing pads on an MPC or a pad controller etc) then you are using that click to keep a general reference of time. So the irrational tempo applies at the beginning of the process as well as the middle and the end. Starting out at an irrational tempo is very eye opening because you can hear the differences in groove EARLY on in the process, even after you've moved onto bass and keys etc...

Final notes?

Next time you want to do a tempo, go one bpm below that and add a .950 or .975 to the tempo you enter.

So if you want 98 bpm do 97.950 there's a difference.

OR

If you want to speed up a beat but not by a whole lot, then add a .475 or a .675 to it.

So if you have 96 bpm then do 96.675 or 96.475 theres a difference.

Please go and try this out and let me know your findings

Peace
Illumination
Swing, no. Groove, yes. Whenever you adjust the BPM against samples, sounds that are based off of absolute values, you adjust how far apart sounds are and the timings between each hit. This is essentially adjust the silence which can change groove. When hits sound too far apart and isolated, you can jack up the BPM. If a track seems to energetic, you can slow it down. There's a bit in "Producing with Q" or whatever its called, about how each song has its own perfect BPM.
Old 20th March 2011 | Show parent
  #63
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steveschizoid's Avatar
It seems to me that many of you guys are totally missing the crux of the matter. I and a few others have tried to explain, but you're just not getting it.

100 bpm is indeed different from 99.999. But the difference is not at all significant. if you have 10 measures in a row with the beat at exactly 99.999, it will sound every bit as metronomic as 100....

Have a look at a tempo map I had Cubase create, based upon a real drummer's performance:
Irrational Tempos to create Groove and Swing-realtempo.jpg

What makes it real is the constant variation.

For about 30 measures he's varying between 129.7 and 132.3. This band is tight, and nobody would accuse this drummer as having tempo issues. So, if a drummer still sounds rock solid with a variation of 2.5 bpm, do you really think changing your metronome by a few thousandths of a bpm will significantly change the feel of your music?

You might just get somewhere by programming your tempo to drift a little bit, but it won't matter if you make it drift between integers or fractions.

For that matter, those tempos between the integers are not "irrational," strictly speaking, since they can in fact be expressed as a ratio. (100.251 bpm = 25100/1000 bpm)

Perhaps (the square root of 2) x 100 would make an interesting tempo, but I don't think a DAW can do it heh
Old 20th March 2011 | Show parent
  #64
Gear Head
 

The point is that measuring tempo by BPM is ultimately arbitrary, and as such sticking to whole numbers often doesn't allow for finding that "perfect tempo" where the groove/swing/timing will sound the best. This is why tap tempo is a great tool and commonly employed by MPC users--they've got the button right there.

That said, to say that 93.102 BPM or 92.904 will necessarily sound better than 93 BPM is misguided. Maybe 93 BPM is the perfect tempo for the track, it just depends. The trick is to stop thinking of tempo in terms of these arbitrary numbers and instead just think of it in terms of "faster" and "slower" until its just right.
Old 21st March 2011 | Show parent
  #65
Quote:
Originally Posted by steveschizoid View Post
It seems to me that many of you guys are totally missing the crux of the matter. I and a few others have tried to explain, but you're just not getting it.

100 bpm is indeed different from 99.999. But the difference is not at all significant. if you have 10 measures in a row with the beat at exactly 99.999, it will sound every bit as metronomic as 100....

Have a look at a tempo map I had Cubase create, based upon a real drummer's performance:
Attachment 226073

What makes it real is the constant variation.

For about 30 measures he's varying between 129.7 and 132.3. This band is tight, and nobody would accuse this drummer as having tempo issues. So, if a drummer still sounds rock solid with a variation of 2.5 bpm, do you really think changing your metronome by a few thousandths of a bpm will significantly change the feel of your music?

You might just get somewhere by programming your tempo to drift a little bit, but it won't matter if you make it drift between integers or fractions.

For that matter, those tempos between the integers are not "irrational," strictly speaking, since they can in fact be expressed as a ratio. (100.251 bpm = 25100/1000 bpm)

Perhaps (the square root of 2) x 100 would make an interesting tempo, but I don't think a DAW can do it heh
Well explained, and exactly what several of us pointed out early in the thread.
Old 21st March 2011 | Show parent
  #66
Gear Nut
 

I think most you are over-thinking this. You could also achieve "swing" with quantize on at 100%, and set to a fixed tempo. Leave some air in the beginning of your samples, and adjust the start points to intentionally move it off the grid, while technically being on the grid.

Trust me this trick saves you time, and a headache, and allows you to have more control over "swing", and you could develop your own "signature swing" instead of conforming to your sequencers "signature swing". This also makes sequencer ppq resolution redundant since you could finely adjust the sample, you're not limited to 480, 960, etc. I personally don't quantize so this doesn't really apply to me..

Sequencers are underrated tools, and it's a shame most ppl never venture past 4/4. Interesting results can be achieved by experimenting with crazy time signatures, and erratic tempos. The bpm is always calculated after the fact.
Old 22nd March 2011 | Show parent
  #67
Gear Maniac
 
liotta soda's Avatar
 

it's pretty easy you maniacs

just play it out for 32 bars and don't quantize

yea

like real musicians

try it

see if you got the talent and skill

bet you don't
Old 22nd March 2011 | Show parent
  #68
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AusChris's Avatar
 

Interesting stuff Ill.

Makes sense if people are using click tracks on PC's from the beginning they're losing out on those decimal point of a beat There's more to it though...really should read the rest of this thread

I always record without a click track, never record quantize, rarely quantize at all. When I'm listening back to my recording I've got a dedicated button to tap tempo on (I do manually nudge notes though...have to admit to that)
Old 23rd March 2011 | Show parent
  #69
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3rd Degree's Avatar
 

I totally get what you are trying to say. I do the same thing, but because I sample, I can do it much more easily. A sample is not quantized, but by chopping it up, in a way I am quantization it. Right there, are am adding an element of tempo drift.

Secondly, with a sample, it has it's own tempo. If you chop it up into pieces, you can adjust the tempo of the drums, by adjusting the the tempo of the song. However, the tempo of the sample stays the same. Here is a video I did on the subject, it's not mathematical because it doesn't have to be in the way I make music. This naturally happens without having to do much work. It's long for what it is but if you watch the whole thing, it makes a lot of sense in how to get your drums to really groove, have more control over swing, etc, etc.

Here is the video, I know it's long for a simple subject, I just wanted to explain in detail:

YouTube - 3rd Degree-Tempo and Sampling
Old 23rd March 2011 | Show parent
  #70
Lives for gear
I've done some tracks where I conformed the PT session to changing the tempo of a sample which is cool. Otherwise I agree with everyone else that thousandths of BPM difference only matters when there is change. If it's static it wont effect the feel.

I feel like samples where each part of the chop might have a slightly different tempo helps create a feel, especially when the chop is repeated.

Here's a little snip of a track where the tempo fluctuates every 1/8th note.
Attached Files

fnky no even beat.mp3 (478.3 KB, 137 views)

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