Finding a Song's BPM

ncc

Silver Member
Interesting thread. I would find typing in a bpm to an App before every song and starting that off on that with the band a real PITA, and kind of cheating.

Shouldn't the band learn the tempo, internalize it, through rehearsal?

Just a thought, If you want to settle arguments in a band at how fast/slow a song on record is, there is this one:

http://songbpm.com/
I agree. We are old school though. ;-) I am also old school in that i believe that no one should not rely on an app for performances, and doing that (and only in my opinion) takes out the personal touch and give it more of a sterile feeling. However I don't think this particular app is for figuring out how fast/slow a song in on a recording, but more to make sure that as you learn and new material - cover or original - with a band you maintain a steady tempo to learn correctly and keep you honest at a gig.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
I think over using them could ruin the bands mojo and the flow of the song when the band is playing.
Unless you have an audible click and stick to it throughout the song, simply watching the tempo readout and attempting to make adjustments will drive you crazy, and indeed take the focus off playing the song. It's really just a tool, so you can target trouble spots: the solo speeds way up, the bridge slows way down, this fill dragged or rushed, etc. With those problems identified, it's just a matter of massaging those sections and parts so that the pushing and pulling is less obvious.

Working with clicks has absolutely helped my time when I'm not playing to a click. One issue that I identified early on was that my triplet fills - whether the song's a shuffle or straight groove - usually rushed. So, I learned to 'sit' on my triplets just a bit. At first it was a conscious effort, and eventually it was second nature without a thought. My triplets are extremely steady as a result, and regardless of tempo.

So in the end, these apps are really just tools, although they sometimes provide much-needed evidence!

Bermuda
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
I agree. We are old school though. ;-) I am also old school in that i believe that no one should not rely on an app for performances, and doing that (and only in my opinion) takes out the personal touch and give it more of a sterile feeling.
Assuming that the person counting off songs is within a workable tempo range from the start of the evening all the way to the end, then no, apps and tools aren't really needed in a completely live band situation. But when the things that influence one's perception of tempo start to creep in, it becomes a problem and requires a solution. Sometimes that solution is to fire the guy that can't count tempos consistently!

But simpler than that is setting tempos for each song, and starting them there. No click needed, there's plenty of room to breathe throughout the song. It's just an agreed-upon starting point for bands that have a problem with some songs being too fast or too slow, which they may or may not actually be. It's all about the perception of the moment. An established tempo eliminates the possibility that someone can adversely affect the starting tempo of a song.

To be fair, there was only one of my bands where we established a tempo for every song, and even if I didn't start the song, I provided the count for the player who did. Our material always started off like we intended, regardless of any internal or external influence or distraction. In other bands where I count off the songs, my starting tempo does vary from time to time, but never a detriment to the song's playability, or danceability. If those bands insisted that we establish tempos, I would gladly do so, if only to take any heat off of me!

Bermuda
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
While I don't have any issues with people using apps, I wouldn't be caught dead using one live. My app is between my ears. Knowing deep down to the very insides of your bones how a song is supposed to feel, without any outside help, is central to my sense of tempo. I feel ditching that and relying on an app would stop the progression of my own natural sense of tempo.

Metronomes are a great tool for learning to keep meter steady. Most people need help in being shown exactly what steady meter sounds like. I know I did lol. Tempo is a whole other facet IMO. It comes right down to a persons feel. IMO, tempo and meter are mutually exclusive, but work side by side to define a person's feel. Tempo is how fast a song is, meter is how steady any tempo can be held at. Steadiness has nothing to do with tempo, you should be able to be steady at any tempo. Which is the very thing that is always evolving as time goes on, a person's tempo/meter sense. I just feel that using a crutch to dictate how fast a song is can only atrophy my "tempo muscle". This is one of those things that, in my mind, is not something that should be made easier. Time feel is THE most important skill for a drummer, and has to be developed. And hey, if you need help with a tempo setter like an app, go for it. I prefer to earn my tempo/meter sense the old fashioned way, by internalizing it. That way it's in my head, not in my app.

Not knocking anyone else's use of the apps. Everybody is different. There's a million different ways to accomplish the same thing. Whatever makes you comfortable and works for you.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
While I don't have any issues with people using apps, I wouldn't be caught dead using one live. My app is between my ears. Knowing deep down to the very insides of your bones how a song is supposed to feel, without any outside help, is central to my sense of tempo.
And that sense of tempo is never affected by anything else? Fatigue? Excitement? The reaction of the crowd? Your personal like or dislike of a song? Alcohol? Hunger? Frustration or other emotional influences?

I don't think I've ever met anyone who's that consistent.

Bermuda
 

ncc

Silver Member
While I don't have any issues with people using apps, I wouldn't be caught dead using one live. My app is between my ears. Knowing deep down to the very insides of your bones how a song is supposed to feel, without any outside help, is central to my sense of tempo. I feel ditching that and relying on an app would stop the progression of my own natural sense of tempo.

Metronomes are a great tool for learning to keep meter steady. Most people need help in being shown exactly what steady meter sounds like. I know I did lol. Tempo is a whole other facet IMO. It comes right down to a persons feel. IMO, tempo and meter are mutually exclusive, but work side by side to define a person's feel. Tempo is how fast a song is, meter is how steady any tempo can be held at. Steadiness has nothing to do with tempo, you should be able to be steady at any tempo. Which is the very thing that is always evolving as time goes on, a person's tempo/meter sense. I just feel that using a crutch to dictate how fast a song is can only atrophy my "tempo muscle". This is one of those things that, in my mind, is not something that should be made easier. Time feel is the most important skill for a drummer, and has to be developed. And hey, if you need help with a tempo setter like an app, go for it. I prefer to earn my tempo meter sense the old fashioned way, by internalizing it.

Not knocking anyone else's use of the apps. Everybody is different. There's a million different ways to accomplish the same thing. Whatever makes you comfortable and works for you.
Good definition. I have never used an app or metronome at a gig or even at practice that i remember, but 30+ years ago i may have. :) I've always relied on my own scene of tempo and meter, which no one has ever questioned. I have found, at least for myself though, that as adrenaline flows and I become so comfortable with tunes and over time, that the starting tempo can gradually creep up, if only slightly, over many gigs.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
And that sense of tempo is never affected by anything else? Fatigue? Excitement? The reaction of the crowd? Your personal like or dislike of a song? Alcohol? Hunger? Frustration or other emotional influences?

I don't think I've ever met anyone who's that consistent.

Bermuda
Pleased to meet you lol.

Fatigue? Never too fatigued to play my gigs. I have plenty of energy. I work electric all day, then gig all night, and be the last one to leave. Excitement? Way past that. It fazes me not to be onstage. I know excitement can be a real enemy, but it just doesn't happen. Never any alcohol when I play, that negatively affects me pretty quickly. Robs the crispness first. I make sure I am well nourished before a gig, having a big old green smoothie with all kinds of health giving foods inside. Frustration? I can't relate. I am happiest when playing drums for people. It's my comfort zone, I feel completely at home, it's the best thing I know how to do. I live to play drums for people. I am happiest when I'm playing drums. Everything is right with the world.

It's not hard to know tempos. It's what I do. If it doesn't come automatically, (rare) I sing a bar or two and transpose the tempo from the speed of the vocal. It's really not hard. I only start or count off a total of 3 songs in my current band, but when I did count off all the time in other bands, really there's nothing to it. I know how it's supposed to feel, that's my responsibility. Nothing to it. That's one of the things I bring to the table. I feel I should have the best tempo/meter sense out of anyone in the band.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
One of the bands I play with has a start tempo problem. In rehearsal it's fine.
When we get up on stage in front of people, the lead guitar player and the band leader (lead singer) usually start the song way too fast.
Then I obligated to maintain that tempo.
I'm the only one that is bothered by it. The band members and the audience don't seem to care.

.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
When we get up on stage in front of people, the lead guitar player and the band leader (lead singer) usually start the song way too fast.
Then I obligated to maintain that tempo.
I'm the only one that is bothered by it. The band members and the audience don't seem to care.

.
Some people allow, or don't realize, that the adrenaline took over. Adrenaline is a huge enemy of tempo/meter, it has to held in check. Better to not even be an issue. Adrenaline and a clear calm mind...don't co-exist nicely. In phase 1 of my drumming (1968 to 1983) I was an adrenaline player. I sucked pretty bad then too. I fell into every pitfall I encountered, and everything I learned has been because I failed and overcame....eventually.

I'm sure I'm not done falling into pits but I've fallen into my share. When I came back to drumming in 2003, I was still an adrenaline player, until the recordings showed me how badly it made my playing sound. Horrified. Took me about 5 years to transform myself to where I didn't cringe at my recordings anymore. Recording and listening back saved me from myself.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Fatigue? Never too fatigued to play my gigs. I have plenty of energy. I work electric all day, then gig all night, and be the last one to leave. Excitement? Way past that. It fazes me not to be onstage. I know excitement can be a real enemy, but it just doesn't happen. Never any alcohol when I play, that negatively affects me pretty quickly. Robs the crispness first. I make sure I am well nourished before a gig, having a big old green smoothie with all kinds of health giving foods inside. Frustration? I can't relate.
Perfect, and as it should be.

I withdraw my retort. :)
 
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