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Guide Tracks / Tempo

Discussion in 'F.O.H.' started by Studdy, Jan 23, 2014.

  1. Studdy

    Studdy Member

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    How many people are commonly changing tempos multiple times through out a song? How many people usually end up with a static tempo? Just working on an ep with a friend. We are a jam type band that always plays live together. We do not play metal, it is more alice in chains type of a sound. Our natural timings are decent but I would like to track to a click for multiple reasons. For some reason im having difficulty getting the timings just right. I've tried everything from extracting the timings from protools to playing each part to click. I think that a lot of our songs have somewhat faster and slower parts, so when tracking to the constant click something gets lost. Just wondering how most people would attack this. Thanks!
     
  2. DullElysium

    DullElysium Member

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    You could always record it first and then tap the tempos and record it again to the tempo map you just made. Or record it in pieces and always set the tempo lower/higher when you feel it needs to change.

    But I think many people use the demo technique to figure out tempos and the overall image before the actual recordings.
     
  3. heshian46

    heshian46 Member

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    Its not uncommon to change tempos frequently during a song.

    You could always have somebody come to practice, have them pull up a metronome app on their phone, and tap out the tempos while you play, noting where the changes occur. That will keep it very natural.
     
  4. Studdy

    Studdy Member

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    I think it just odd this time for me because I am drumming in the project. Plus the music is some what organic if that's the word for it. Probably over analysing it. Thanks for your suggestions.
     
  5. Terminus

    Terminus Member

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    Given that the main style I play in is doom (some of which would fall into the same tempo range as what you're describing), I try to stay away from changing the tempo too many times in a song but sometimes it's just a necessary thing to get the feel of the part right. IMO the recording of a song part by part is t he best way to get it right, and really that's how most metal is recorded these days anyway, riff by riff part by part. But yeah for slower stuff I'd say try to keep the tempo changes to a minimum if possible as it can sometimes lead to a disjointed transition, at least ime.
     
  6. Vice//Versa

    Vice//Versa Dude among dudes

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    Personally, I think frequent tempo changes are more of a burden than a musical "asset," then again that is a highly personal thing. I would make tempo changes matter, unless you're performing Romantic classical ala Schubert (lol).
     
  7. Studdy

    Studdy Member

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  8. guy in latvia

    guy in latvia Member

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    I'm recording my debut album right now and we have +/- 2-5 bpm changes between almost every section of music, and we don't quantize anything to the grid. Its barely noticeable when listening back, but it somehow feels more natural. Now when I listen to the original demos with a static tempo everything just sounds wrong. It doesn't seem like much, but if the musicians are capable of playing this way (I have a spectacularly good drummer), it definitely adds something to the end product. It makes it more sound a lot more like a real performance, rather than a sequence of riffs. Granted, this does make tracking, editing and mixing significantly more difficult, but personally I think its worth it.
     
  9. Studdy

    Studdy Member

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    Great post thanks. Are you changing the tempo in a musical way or just practicing each part to different bpms that feels "right"?
     
  10. guitarfishbay

    guitarfishbay Member

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    We just spent the past few weeks working specifically on tempo maps for our album, and almost every section has a tiny shift somewhere.

    The way we did it was me (guitar) and the singer went through every song and created a draft map.

    Then we'd go try it out with the drummer playing on an electric kit, and make adjustments as necessary. The only reason we did it in two sections not one was due to the drummer's work schedule, but I think it allowed me and the singer to discuss and notice things before we started the 'real' mapping.

    We also referenced and analysed rehearsal recordings. It helps if you have a few versions of the same song to see if you do something every time that sounds good (or bad).

    Two important things to note:

    1. We're a hard rock band not a metal band, so YMMV with my own learnings here.

    2. We don't write to a click, when we send each other song ideas it is not to a click, and we don't do 'high quality demos', we just record with a stereo mic in the practice room/bedroom and don't over analyse it performance wise.

    When mapping:

    We noticed that on big chorus fills we sometimes (not always) 'push' slightly, so sometimes need to start a hair early next bar compared to static click. Feels totally natural when playing as a band (no click) to push (tiny tiny amount) but if we tried to force it to static click the fill would end up needing to sound too robotic, or lose the energy from what we wrote. So sometimes pushing one or more beats up a tiny tiny bit on chorus bars with massive fills. There is also a song where some fills have a slight pull feel in the middle 8, so the tempo map got pulled back a tiny bit. We found that mapping beat to beat isn't totally necessary, it is more important that the next bar naturally starts on the 1 again. Do this however works best (it was sometimes whole fill bar up/down Xbpm, and sometimes beat 3+4, or beat 4 up/down Xbpm). Just try to have it that when the main beat comes back in right when it should musically.

    You have to make a judgement call on if changing tempo sounds good or bad. Sometimes you do it live because you're speeding up/getting over excited, and the song would sound better if you held it steady. So don't change just because it is a new section, change if it needs to.

    Four key things I learned specifically relating to tempo mapping -

    1. The tempo map is done when the band can play along with it and it feels natural. If a section naturally speeds up or slows down the click should catch where you go. The drummer shouldn't feel like they have to change the way they play fills to work with the metronome, the metronome should follow them. This was pretty crucial to us. By the same token - if the drummer is playing it shit, tell them, don't account for it in the click. But if it sounds good to push/pull then make the click follow it.

    2. The numbers mean nothing meaningful so don't get hung up on them. If you need to change bpm by 5 you need to do it, if it only needs 1 that is fine. On one song that is around 83bpm we even found out we had to do a half bpm increase for the chorus to get the feel right.

    3. When you check changes check in context, don't just check a section at a time, or a bar at a time. It is time consuming but you really need to check against the sections either side to make sure it flows well. Also when it is done check it the whole way through more than one time and make sure everyone agrees, or at least accepts your final decision if there is disagreement (I'm assuming you're in charge).

    4. Think of the big picture - for us we have 100% clean vocals, so if we were deciding between two BPM's for a section the most important is which makes the vocal delivery sound best.
     
  11. guy in latvia

    guy in latvia Member

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    I'm not sure a "a musical way" really means, but its definitely about getting the right feel. Guitarfishbay really said it best, you gotta do what feels right and makes sense. Typically in my case, we usually have the choruses come in with a higher tempo, to get more energy going and we slow down during clean sections or breaks. That way it adds another type of dynamic to the music, since in metal volume isn't something that changes often.
     
  12. bryan_kilco

    bryan_kilco Member

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    Something I ran into the other night working on pre-pro.....

    Tempos changed quite a few times from intro up until second chorus. Now, in this case, the first chorus is like 4 or 6 bpm faster than the second chorus because the feel of the second verse just felt right to leave the tempo the same throughout the next chorus.

    My question is: Do you guys often have a set tempo for every chorus so they're all the same?
     
  13. abt

    abt BT

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    All choruses the same but sometimes I make them a few bpm quicker if the entire song is one temp.
     
  14. guitarfishbay

    guitarfishbay Member

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    IMO make every section the tempo that sounds best and don't worry about symmetry or maths or anything other than what sounds good.

    Try to get a sketch run through with the band and see if it sounds better with the slower chorus. And then try again with the faster chorus. It is often easier to make a decision if you can listen back to it. Listen back from the start to give it proper context. If you just listen to the transition from Verse 2 to chorus 2 that isn't the full picture. If you or the band has any rehearsal room recordings they would be worth referencing too, to see what happens naturally.
     
  15. Line666

    Line666 Fendurr

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    http://www.ultimatemetal.com/forum/f-o-h/820546-incremental-tempo-changes-within-context-song.html

    I asked this a few years ago dude! I started doing it after that - just small changes of a few bpm creates a more natural movement between sections, you have to be careful to implement it contextually and not force it as sometimes it can sound a bit 'off' if you've not judged it correctly. From experience though it gives a more live feel to your average rock song on most things, it's one of these little touches that can add up but when used incorrectly it can seem forced and like too much of a jump - even 1-2bpm.
     
  16. Plendakor

    Plendakor Member

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    I can think of at least 2 of my songs with subtle tempo change (1 bpm at the time). I'm a big fan of subtle "useless" tweaks and tricks but I think it's just like a movie maker goes with his stuff.

    For instance, I have a +1 bpm change where it changes the timing signature. The riff with the differant signature naturally is faster even at the same BPm but incrementing of 1 bpm, I at least know I'm at least not down shifting in gears.


    Umm hope I'm not too vague lol
     
  17. Studdy

    Studdy Member

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    Im really digging this thread can anyone else chime in? I find getting tempos and tempo maps perfect to be one of the biggest obstacles when preparing for a session. Cheers.
     
  18. Grå Värld

    Grå Värld Member

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    I tend to record a guitar track by it self with no click and see what feels right in terms of tempo and then analyse the tempo to get an idea if parts speed up or slow down. If a track is a similar tempo in the play through I then think about dynamics and add 1-2bpm for a prechorus and 1-2 more for the chorus and then drop back to original tempo for verses. I play hardcore/dbeat so tempo variations are the norm.
     

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