BPM question

MisterZero

Senior Member
I recently got into a slight argument with my vocalist on tempos and BPMs. And, I think maybe we were both right, to varying degrees. In straight 4/4 time, don't we count BPMs as quarter notes? What about cut time? Or 2/4? For example, the song in question is Mrs. Robinson (The Lemonheads version). Give a quick listen, if you will, and let me know what BPM number you would assign. To narrow this down, we were arguing over 108 vs. 216. As you can see, the second number is twice as high. Obviously, a difference in which notes to count.

Would you rate this tune at 108 BPMs or 216?
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
I just use whichever BPM/subdivision is more intuitively convenient. This is usually whichever is closest to 100.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
Typically bpm stuff is discussed and spoken of in quarter-notes. When we say "half time" or "double time" it's in relation to that. It's just easier to stick with one value for the anchor.
 
In jazz (and perhaps other genres) my experience is that you do both: count in half-time (1 ... 2 ...) and then in quarter-note time (1,2,3,4). I've always liked that more than "ONE! TWO! THREE! FOUR!"
 

tcspears

Gold Member
I think part of the confusion is that 2/4 is not cut time, 2/2 is cut time. 2/4 is a duple, and is mainly used in polkas.

There is no specific rule about what BPM ties to, but typically in simple meters it is tied to note duration. i.e. 2/4, 3/4, 4/4 are the most common simple meters and would all tie BPM to a crochet (quarter note).

The other issue you run into is the interchangebility of meters. If you think about it, any meter can be re-written by adjusting the length of the notes. For example, 3/2, 3/4, and 3/8 could all be equivalent. Even 12/8 and 4/4 can be interchangeable through the use of irrational rhythms (or tuplets) when subdividing.

Back to this specific song. It sounds like they are playing in double time, which means that note values are doubled, but the meter and chord progressions remain the same. The rhythm section might see this as 216, while the singer or guitartist might see this as 108... There isn't one correct way to calculate BPM; the groups needs to decide if they want to measure the song in crochets or quavers, and then establish the BPM.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
The Lemonheads version has a stronger four feel than the original, so I'd call it 4/4@216. The Simon & Garfunkel version has a stronger half note pulse, and I'd call it 2/2 at the ~100 tempo. If you were drumming on them, I would call the styles "rock beat in a fast 4" for LHs, and "folkie 2-beat in 2/2" for S&G.
 

moxman

Silver Member
I tend to count them based on where the 2 and 4 (the backbeat) fall into place. Find the pulse of the tune..I have played that one in the past counting it at ~215.. it moves!
 

MisterZero

Senior Member
Thanks, guys. I was calling it 108 and she was saying 216. I just know of songs that are in the 200 plus BPMs, and they are WAY faster. But, it's true, music notation and BPMs really can be subject to personal preference to a degree. Fair enough, I'll tell her we were both right. :)

thx
 

rtliquid

Senior Member
Slight thread hijack here.

I've been playing for 35+ years and I had lessons in school for 9 years. I still don't exactly know what cut, half, double times mean. Let's say we're playing a standard 4/4 pattern. 1 & 3 on bass, 2&4 on snare at 100bpm (counting quarter notes). Can someone explain how that sounds different in the other variations? I feel so stoopid.....
 

RockinRob

Junior Member
Technically it is 216 BPM's. However, If you set your metronome to 108 you'll still be on time if you're playing your snare on every click. BPM is obviously "beats per minute" so if you counted 1-2-3-4 you would get 216 within a minute. Hope I was able to explain that right Lol!
 

opentune

Platinum Member
Slight thread hijack here.

I've been playing for 35+ years and I had lessons in school for 9 years. I still don't exactly know what cut, half, double times mean. Let's say we're playing a standard 4/4 pattern. 1 & 3 on bass, 2&4 on snare at 100bpm (counting quarter notes). Can someone explain how that sounds different in the other variations? I feel so stoopid.....
Can't be stoopider than me, am self taught and only 10+ years, but as I learned it from some long ago post here on DW

for 8th notes in 4/4, backbeat in boldface
normal time backbeat on 2 and 4 1&2&3&4&
half time back beat on 3 1&2&3&4&
doubleitme, backbeat on 1,2,3,4 1&2&3&4&
 

wildbill

Platinum Member
Listening - I get 108 (Opentune's double time??).

Drums (BD-Bass Drum;Sn-Snare)

1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and

BD Sn BD Sn BD Sn BD Sn


Guitar/Bass - hitting 16th's:

1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a


Don't know if that's considered right - but it'd work for me.
LOL


Alternatively:
If you count 1,2,3,4, (Bd,Sn,BD,Sn)
and the guitar/bass doing 1/8th notes
you are at 216 bpm.
That's a bit too hectic though. The first way is easier.
.
 
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toddbishop

Platinum Member
Slight thread hijack here.

I've been playing for 35+ years and I had lessons in school for 9 years. I still don't exactly know what cut, half, double times mean. Let's say we're playing a standard 4/4 pattern. 1 & 3 on bass, 2&4 on snare at 100bpm (counting quarter notes). Can someone explain how that sounds different in the other variations? I feel so stoopid.....
Good question. Cut time is the same as a time signature of 2/2: two half notes per measure. Which basically looks the same as 4/4, but it's felt with two beats per measure, on the 1 and 3 (that's counting in 4/4!). A rock-type drum beat would have the BD on 1 and the snare on 3.

Half time is the same as cut time. You say half time when there's a tempo change, to a tempo half as fast as the current one. You can also say half time feel, which means that you're playing in cut time, while the music is still basically in the fast 4/4.

Double time means "twice as fast", and is used the same way-- when there's a tempo change, or to make a double time feel: the music stays in the regular 4/4, and you play twice as fast. That seems to be what's happening with the S&G version of the tune here; the band is in 2/2, but part of the accompaniment suggests double time. The Lemonheads version is just having the whole band play the "double time", but since you're not feeling the 2/2 anywhere in the accompaniment, that just makes their arrangement a fast 4/4, period.

Contrary to that "double time swing" horsecrap in Whiplash, there is no double time (or half time) without reference to something else- either a tempo change, or a concurrent regular 4/4.

If the beat you describe, plus 8th notes on the hihat, were written in half time feel, the bass would be on 1 and the snare would be on 3, and the hihat would play quarter notes; if it were written in double time feel, the bass would be on the 1-2-3-4, the snare would be on all the &s, and the hihat would play 16th notes.

I hope that helps!
 

BertTheDrummer

Gold Member
In written music it is usually written 4/4 is Quarter Note = ____ . And 2/2 or Cut Time is Half Note = ____ . 6/8 is Eighth Note = _____ though a lot of times it is counted in 2 as a triplet feel.

Generally with most rock groups, I'll just mark everything based on Quarter Note, I find it easier that way. If the people I'm playing with have formal music training, I'll mark stuff according to time signature.
 
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