Advice plz: How to handle tempo/sig with musical pauses?


I’ve got this song where the tempo and sig are kicking me 10 days from Sunday. It has a few pauses in it, and unfortunately the pauses weren’t “held” for an even # of beats.

It’s a verse that slows, stops, then the song picks up at normal speed for a chorus:


X-X-X-X-X-X–X--X—X---X----X … X-X-X-X-X-X-X-X

I’m having a hard time figuring out how to use Cubase 6’s tools to handle that. I’d like of course the downbeat of the Chorus to land on the 1st beat of a measure, or at least squarely on a downbeat.

And I’m not quite sure how to set up the tempo track from the time it begins to slow through the end of the pause.

I’ve tried things like adjusting the time sig and the tempo track, individually and simultanously, as well as tools like Merge Tempo from Tapping and Timewarp, but the only thing I have to show for it is a massive headache. I’ve also tried just cutting the song in two pieces, but somehow that isn’t working great, mainly I think because I’ve already gone a fair way in terms of overdubs and things like that … maybe that’s going to turn out to be the best answer anyway?

Does anyone else here do that kind of writing/recording/engineering? Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

Been covered multiple times. Why don’t you use the Search function? I haven’t seen you post one single tune so I’m doubting this is even a real life scenario. I’m guessing you have no life and these posts of your’s are just a way to entertain yourself.

You and brains would make a good couple.

Nice post mashedmitten, very helpful.

Seeing you’ve posted over 2800 times in just over a year, I suggest you’re the one that needs to get a life.

Or just go over to Gearslutz. Folks there thrive on people with your self-righteous attitude.

If the time warp or such is hard to do because you have recorded multiple tracks, I would suggest to perform a mixdown to a new audio track, solo that track and try to perform the time warp on the mixdown.
Once done you can delete/mute the mixdown track (it being a temporary mixdown just for the purpose of creating a tempo track).

ROFLMAO, says the man with 3 posts, probably all sticking his nose in other’s affairs like this one. :wink:

OP’s Q has been answered in another post on the same subject made by him/her (still can’t figure it out) a couple of weeks ago.

Thank you gents for the replies!

Lanter, that’s a good suggestion for a quick way - create the tempo map by performing a mixdown to audio then TTng that. Honestly, once I’ve gotten the TT created is where I’m having the most problems - regarding how best to define the tempo in the pause, so that the chorus returns on a down beat.

Right now I’m just kind of iteratively fiddling with the tempo and sig during the pause, but it is awkward enough that I’m guessing there’s a more efficient way.

BTW - awesome link in your sig to the “MIDI Timing” issues!

Is your initial recording to MIDI or Audio?

When I’m free-playing I record in Time Base, not Bars and Beats, into MIDI. I can then edit out the bad bits and end up with a take I can glue together as a single part.

I now go about building a tempo map either with the Warp Tool or Tap Tempo. I have in the past built TT tracks by duplicating and editing MIDI takes. I never found a way of doing it that wasn’t lengthy, fiddly and tedious in the extreme, so I am interested to read that tip you got a post or two ago.

As far as decisions about tempo in pauses goes, I think you have to go with a strictly musical interpretation and you may need to define the tempo map down to beat level or even further and at points it will deviate greatly from the mean. But my point is that 4/4 must be maintained as 4/4 - I would say that fiddling the time sig (for example, I don’t know if you’re doing this) is cheating and you will trip yourself up in the end.

I hope this helps, I think I know what you’re asking but not convinced I’ve addressed it properly so ask back if you need to.

Might also be worth having a look at this thread which I posted on this very matter some time ago:

:smiley: C

Thanks, Crotchety! Another free-tempo soul, I think we are few/far between! :laughing:

You know, I had forgotten about being in Linear Time Base mode when doing the Tap Tempo, thanks for reminding me to that old thread of yours - it is still great!

BTW, you mentioned there:


  • First, I have to switch Tempo Track on, at which point the bpm goes to 120 and won’t let me change it!
    Using the Tempo Tap track previously created for simplicity:
  • With the Warp Tool (editor ruler displaying Bars & Beats), anchor the first beat to bar 5 (where it is anyway).

Seems simple enough but the Piano track soon gets out of synch, playing much slower than it should. > You can see this in the Project Window - the Piano and Tap Tempo tracks are visibly way out of line. NSG either.

Did that problem in bold get satisfactorily addressed by doing the initial Tap Tempo in LTB mode?

Re: your comments on keeping it real and 4/4 … yeah, I am getting turned around a bit doing it the other way. Having the tempo drop way down brings its own challenges (I use the click track on the few beats beforehand to help me count in for overdubs), but obviously compromises have to be made somewhere … even in Cubase!

Thanks again! P.S. You have a ways to go to live “down” to your name!

You’re just catching me on a good day…!

I think the answer to the bold bit was ‘yes’ but I’m still feeling my way with this. It’s a while since I’ve gone at this with any intensity so my memory’s a bit rusty but there are pitfalls for the unwary as you proceed from a free-tempo track to a properly organised bars+beats version that you can build on. “Save As” is your friend.

What I am sometimes aiming for is a track with beats aligned so that I can change tempo and maintain the feel. For rapid playing this demands a lot of warping but if you’re going to stick with your original tempo then there may be no need to go to such lengths.

At some stage you need to switch the track to Musical TB or your part lengths and note positions start going awry when you move them.

It’s worth mentioning that warp tabs are non destructive so you can adjust them for points where you actually did come in early (like a broken chord). May involve some switching between MTB and LTB. There may also be a point of no return…

Just to clarify what I was saying earlier about tempo and beat, I find it helps to imagine what a conductor would be doing with their hands. Slowing down almost to a stop before resuming would be scored with a rall. followed by the pause symbol over the last note or rest. The programming needs to reflect this, not least because you may want to print out the score. So a beat, however long, remains a beat.

To take your example of the start of the Chorus, let’s say that structurally it needs to start at bar 32 (following a combination of blocks of 4/8/16, to put up a typical 4/4 tune as an example), then that’s what you must make sure it starts at once you have done all your warping.

Nice idea about counting back in but how would set it to the new tempo without an extra bar? I was thinking that you could compromise here but I still think bar 32 but remain bar 32. I wonder if you could do this by setting a dummy tempo change right at the end of bar 31. Say the last note before the pause was a single beat on 4, put a tempo change at 4 1/2 set to the coming tempo divided by 32 (halve it 5x). I think that’s right. You would then put 4 32nd notes in at this point on your click track, which would come out as a 1 bar count of 4 at the new tempo.

I gotta check that but I’ll post this for now. Laters…

There are some things a musician does that a computer just will not do. This sounds like one of those times where you need to ask yourself (and tell others who you require help off) WHY you need the machine to do that.
Just playing it is sometimes the answer.

If you need to print notation there are rules and symbols for expressing that in general use and although your track might sound like dogpu if it looks right, it is right.

If, for some unfathomable reason, you need to read the music as the machine plays it then you may find the wicket a little sticky.

I recently had to do a track where we had to fit a vocal to a rather free-range song intro. He kept just missing the critical point at the end to come into the song proper on the button. We just had to time-stretch the vocal to fit. Wasn’t all that easy but not too hard. We just had to go over a few details where the part sounded a bit off and to do it on short pieces to avoid artifacts.
Sometimes it’s just better to free-play the midi parts (if that’s where your worries lie). All those time-stretchers and pitch correction and fancy FX can get in the way of progress sometimes.
NEVER forget, you’ve ALWAYS got the option NOT to use any of them. Just because they are there doesn’t mean you HAVE to.
Less can be so much more.

If you’re worried that we’re trying to impose the machine on the music you can relax, we’re not. It’s the other way round. And we are free-playing the MIDI, that’s what’s set the thread off.


Btw, have you discovered the joys of the MIDI Retrospective Record buffer? I could never noodle successfully with the machine running - just too much pressure - but I have a macro and keypress for it set up so can quickly capture any inspired moments.

If that’s the case then there’s no problem then. Just play along with the MUSIC. :mrgreen:
Forget about tempo and time signature. If they’re both out of the window then all you do is adapt to the muscal variable.
That’s only applicable if you’re NOT trying to impose the machine on the music of course. :smiley:

But you can’t forget about tempo and time signature. They are basic elements - properties, if you like, but not impositions (unless you’re talking about dance music… :smiling_imp: )

I do free form tempo all the time.
One thing I always try to do is start with a count off and a few bars of click. That gives you a good jumping off point. I usually just make an audio click track so I can easily shut it off at a specific bar.
I also prefer to write in the tempo event changes manually. I feel like I have better control over interpretation .

As far as your specific situation -
I’d recommend listening to the track and intuitively try to interpret what the artist was shooting for. Many times the artist is attempting to do something and they don’t nail it. You may even need to learn the song and play it yourself a few times to get a feel for it.
My guess is that the performer in your case actually hears some sort of meter in his head - if you can handle laying in the tempo events yourself you’ll have a lot more control over experimentation. All you need to do is figure out what he was going for first - you may need to create an exaggerated version and then smooth it out after the fact. I usually do that by slicing any audio rather than warping when I can.

Now, if this is a theatrical situation where the performer was cuing off of some sort of event - or worse yet, a rock band that does arbitrary stops and starts using visual cues… Well, it’s a little more of a challenge.
In that case I make sure all audio is contained into Parts, and then I snip everything at the break and slip everything back or forward to place it in a more logical location. You can make the decision based on musicality or for score purposes based on what you need.

The bottom line:
There is no easy button.
You’ll have a new skill set after tackling this one.


That’s not the case for the rest of the world of music. If the tempo and time signature get in the way then that’s exactly what you do. Ignore it. The rubato sign is especially invented for those times when strict tempo and time signature do not apply.
As Steve Vont says in the post before this, you have to use your intuition and creativity as well as your musical expertise to get the effect you need. It is tricky sometimes to get Cubase to bend to your will instead of Cubase bending yours to it. But in this case I believe Cubase will let you do that.

If the poster wishes to read / print the part then, as the manual says, you have to straighten things out but PLAY them with the time-bends.
If you need to play underneath the part, ie: adding midi instruments, then I find it’s much quicker to run through the part as many times as needed (and as Steve Vont says, to get the feel) and then finally do the take but then I have a lot of experience at doing that. For someone inexperienced it is still a good educative excercise for musicians of any standard to go through. It doesn’t happen that often but it does happen more than any of us really want at times.

If there’s no indication of tempo, ie: a gap as the OP says, then Merge Tempo… would be quite tricky to set up.

This looks like one of those times to throw the manual in the drawer and look at all the aspects of what you’re attempting and what you want to hear or see and then try to formulate the right question for the forum to understand.
I feel more detail is needed (although the OPs done his best) but, for my part, I’d have a job thinking of the right question to ask in a case like this.

As I see the problem I’d tend to play (any midi part augmentations) as best I could underneath the part and then bend them to fit. Especially if there’s any kind of brass / string section (midi or audio) work to do.

It’s so easy to deal with a free recorded pause that it isn’t funny. Been covered more times than I can count.

Of course it is. You don’t remove the structure by being expressive, you just stretch it here and there, making the buggers…wait. However you interpret it, and however long it takes to get there, bar 32 remains bar 32.

Post count does not reflect actual knowledge or the affections held by any members towards any other.

@OP, it depends on what you want to do, if you have audio and want to add midi, then it is best being played along if the piece is not consistent, rather than being programmed.

True but in Cubase terms, if you don’t need to print the music or refer to the score page then all the notation gubbins can be ignored and carry on as though it’s just a piece of old-style recording tape. Which, if memory serves me well, didn’t have any notation on it at all. :mrgreen: