MIDI beat mapping (tempo)

I have recording of a free MIDI improvisation.
Because I recorded an improvisation (very rubato) without the tempo click, I want to keep my existing music (in the term of aural speed, and time) but I want to map tempo and beats to some notes so that the music becomes quantizated.

Important: I don’t want to quantize notes to the existing beats, but the opposite.

Is there any tool so that I can pick a MIDI note and choose “move beat here”? Or: “drag this beat to this note”?

The tempo would change constantly of course, but the MIDI export to a notation software would be much better.

Try to imagine this scenario. You go to MIDI keyboard. You get inspired. Click on record, and start improvising. One of the “melodies” goes like that:

You simply don’t care what is the recording tempo (it could be let us say 100).
Than, you want to get this quantization, this tempo and this melody.
And assume that you have improvised for 20 minutes with lot of rubatos.

If there is any tutorial already, or give me a hint, or point to the manual. Or - how would you do? I get to many Logic X results in google.



you can try to make this Cubase automatically by using Project > Tempo Detection.

Or you can do this manually with Time Warp tool. With the Time Warp tool, you will move the grid to the notes, so the tempo changes.


As a fellow variable-tempo player/recorder (for example speeding up the tempo a bit leading into a chorus, slowing down/pausing for effect, etc.), I wanted to mention some caveats regarding Time Warp, ymmv of course.

The Time Warp tool makes it very easy to tell Cubase “the beat falls HERE”, and if all the notes you played fall exactly on the beat, your job is done.

But for passages that I have notes played a bit before/after the beat for musical effect, I find it very difficult to preserve that slightly early/slightly late secondary “humanizing” effect (variable-tempo being the main one). As an example of what I mean, overdub a very emotional solo on a prerecorded backing track (fixed-tempo, to make it simple), then look at the placement of your notes with respect to the grid. Many notes are early, many late, which adds to the musicality. Now imagine starting out with the performance (no existing grid), then trying to reverse-engineer where the drum hits were meant to be! I’ve learned that Time Warp doesn’t help me to do that, maybe because it’s mainly a visual tool (I can’t perform using a step sequencer, either), but either way, I find I can do no better than telling Cubase to put the beat exactly where the note was played.

“Tap Tempo” is another way to tell Cubase how to draw the grid in variable-tempo projects. Though it’s a more musical method than Time Warp, I was never able to make it work as well as I wanted it too for this purpose (maintaining the musical early/late playing with respect to the variable tempo), I think it’s too “backwards” for me. Maybe a really good drummer could figure out the mental grid I constructed and then varied from when I was playing, all I know is that I can’t!

So, imo, these tools are great for getting 95% of the way there for creating a grid for a variable-tempo project. The other 5% is the cost of not recording a drummer live with me, I can live with that.

I’d love to hear others’ experiences!

A short comment on beat mapping:
I have been struggling with this only because many DAWs instructions (including here Cubase) have in mind pop, jazz, techno etc music. Some people comment “you have to practice to feel the beats better”…
I come from the contemporary music side (let us say BOULEZ) and here it is very hard to “tap tempo” or to use single time signature in the entire “song” and so on.

Imagine that you have a thousands of MIDI notes to align, different TS all the time and so on…

Alexis’s comment about the TimeWarp tool vs “Merge Tempo from Tapping” is very valid, especially if there isn’t actually a note playing on an intended (i.e. silent) beat.
But, “Merge Tempo from Tapping” does work nicely, once you get the hang of it (see that linked post, above :wink: ). Just tap along to the music, as if you were a conductor… you will instinctively place those “silent” beats (they were already in your head when you played that piece of rubato :wink: )… and you can of course edit any “tapped” timing errors before you use the “Merge Tempo” function :wink:.