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Tempo/Meter and not knowing the tempo
Old 28th June 2009
Here for the gear

Tempo/Meter and not knowing the tempo

Hey everyone, i am still pretty new to the forums.

My studio is up and running, and a guy i went to high school with brought his band in to talk about recording. This is the first full band i've done. Everything else has been between hip-hop and acoustic.

They are a progressive metal band that wants to record 8 songs. All 8 songs are at least 7 minutes or more.

Now in these very long songs, they have several tempo/meter changes. They do not know the actual tempos of the songs and want me to record them playing without a click, then find the tempo and map it out so they can play to a click.

We started to record one of the songs, and I feel the whole tempo mapping thing is taking way too long. I am not blaming them for it or anything, i will admit that this is the most in depth thing i've had to do while recording and i don't want to waste anybodies time with it.

So a couple questions i have are:
Is it common for bands to come in not knowing the tempo of their songs?
Am i bending over backwards figuring out all of the tempos for every change?
Also, is there a more effective way finding out a tempo other than Identify Beat in PT LE?

I thank you all in advance for any advice. I really appreciate it and i would like to hear your input.

Old 28th June 2009
Lives for gear

first thing I do is when they're playing the song I tap out the temp with the 'T' key when the the conductor is off (so it's in manual)... I almost always work in double time.. meaning i am looking to give the band 1/8 notes (more subdivisions are easier for them to lock to and it's equal for up and downbeats that way) with no accenst... that way they are not locked to where one is yet and can just flow. When you think your close... then turn on the click. I just commit and make the session this tempo now... easy to click in the ruler and bump it up or down.
Listen to what is sounds like at this tempo. You may need to bump it up or down some clicks... remember your at 'double time' ... so a song at 80 bpm is at 160 in this world. Between the feel of the groove and the singers ability to deliver the lyric at the proposed tempo is where I fall into.
If there are temp and/or meter changes you need to chart out the song. Be aware of things that can happen like 2/4 bars at the end of a chorus, etc - that they might not know them selves that they have written (so to speak). It is really easy in pro tools to do this... make makers with the songs sections... don't forget to have a count our (2 bars at least)....
Once you know the song and have cues you can increase/decrease the tempo of scetions easily..change meter,etc. Even Accelerandos and Ritardandos are easy with the tempo ruler in PT... you can draw and drag the line.. etc.
Once you have nailed it... you an do things like copy/pasts in the ruler section to make multi takes left to right ... at least that is how I work.
Once you know for sure what is all is I like to actually print an audio track of the click... and consolidate to an even number of bars... always good to have a fallback.
Old 28th June 2009
In Pro Tools - use Identify Beat and identify every 4 or 8 bars or use Beat Detective... very simple.

Old 28th June 2009
Lives for gear
Ol' Betsey's Avatar
Originally Posted by BillLatsh View Post
So a couple questions i have are:
Is it common for bands to come in not knowing the tempo of their songs?
Am i bending over backwards figuring out all of the tempos for every change?
1. It is generally only common with bands that haven't done their homework. If you are involved in the pre-production (which you seem to be) then it's part of the job.

2. Yes you are bending over backwards but that's just a part of the job.

3. Before you do all this work it might be best to ascertain whether the drummer/band can actually play to a click. And I mean REALLY play to a click and not just a "A click? Oh yeah, uh huh, sure, I can play to a click... I think."

Maybe get them in the studio and work out tempo's playing to click together.

This is a hefty job for your first full band gig... I feel for ya. Good luck!

Old 8th July 2009
Here for the gear

Thanks for the input everyone!
The sessions are going great so far. One question i do have is, When i am using PTLE is there a way to copy and paste the meter changes? So say if i wanted to just copy the layout of the verse (3 bars 4/4, 1 bar 5/4, etc) would that be possible? or would i have to manually make the changes?

Anywho, thanks again everyone! When we have a song finished i will post a link if the band is ok with it.

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