MIDI-Controlled Set Tempo and Tap Tempo - Possible?

Summary: Is there a way to set the tempo to a specific value and/or to tap tempo via MIDI?

I’m hoping to use Cubase for live performance, hosting instruments for my keyboard rig, as well as for studio work. I’ll be using software called Bome’s MIDI Translator that will process incoming MIDI data from my keyboard and a controller and pass MIDI data to Cubase. All the sounds I’ll play live will be samples loaded into NI Kontakt; I’ll occasionally need to play back an audio or MIDI track to provide backing parts as well.

I know how to set up most of the control I need to have over Cubase (solo a particular track, unsolo another track, and start/stop playback). As far as playing live sounds and audio backing tracks, I’m set.

In order to play back MIDI backing tracks, I need to set the tempo in Cubase. Is there a way to send a MIDI message to Cubase that sets the tempo? If so, how would I do that?

I also run my electric piano sounds through NI Guitar Rig. Some of the effects I use, such as delay, are dependent on the tempo, and the natural way to do that is to tap the tempo. I know I can turn off the sync-to-host feature in Guitar Rig and assign a MIDI control to its tap tempo, but it’d be nice to tap tempo for the host, so that if I want to launch an audio or MIDI clip at a specific time (and not just play back a track along with the entire song the band’s playing), I can make sure I’m in sync with the band. They generally don’t play to a click track unless there’s pre-recorded parts I’m launching, so while forcing them to always play to a click is an option, it’s better to only do that when necessary.

In case someone tries to suggest it, opening up the tap tempo dialog and hitting the spacebar a few times isn’t an option. If I need to adjust in the middle of the song, I don’t have the luxury of taking my hands off the keyboard and messing with Cubase dialogs; I want to tap with a footpedal.

And yes, I know that Cubase isn’t really designed as a live performance host. I’m on Windows and don’t have the money or need to buy a Mac, so my other choices have been Live (less stable than Cubase; last time I used it live, it blew away everything I had loaded into Kontakt when I loaded the project so I had to reload it all manually), Reason (rock-solid, but the sounds aren’t as good as my Kontakt samples), Cantabile (solid but does bizarre things with routing multiple outputs from plugins), NI Kore (really buggy plus discontinued), and Brainspawn Forte (far too many crashes for me to trust i on stage).

I have some keyboards (e.g. Fantom and Triton) which have a metronome in them and tap-tempo buttons. I can also configure these keyboards to send midi-clock to Cubase - not that I’ve tried it. But the theory is that I could then set Cubase to follow the tempo of the keyboard. Now, these keyboards also save a tempo with a performance (or whatever the manufacturer calls them), so I can switch performances (say one for each song) and the tempo will change, Cubase will change too. Then if during the song I wish to speed up or slow down then I can tap a new tempo. And, I believe that I can also plug in a footswitch to tap the tempo too. Any help to you?


I think you may have to wait for Cubase Live Player or somesuch. It’s really a studio and not a live performance app. so you have to mash up the program your way at the moment to get it to work live reliably I guess.
Besides, drum machines are much simpler for use as a master clock.
I think there are a fair few here who use Cubase live though so wait for them to chime in.

Mike, thanks for the ideas. My keyboard is a Roland V-Combo VR-700, which is mainly a B3 clone, plus a mix of not-so-good sampled sounds and a simple player that can either produce built-in rhythm parts or play audio or MIDI from a USB stick. I’ve never really used the player, but you can set the tempo for MIDI or rhythm parts, and you can also choose to use a control pedal to tap tempo. I don’t know if MIDI clock messages are sent at all times or only during playback; I don’t want to mess with having something played back if I don’t have to, since I’ll still be using the keyboard’s B3 sounds. I suppose I could play MIDI and Audio back from the keyboard and not from Cubase (so I’d only need the tap tempo on the laptop for effect speeds), but the keyboard only has one pair of outputs, so there’s no way to separate my live parts from the pre-recorded audio and a click track. Definitely something to look into though, so thanks for suggesting it.

Conman: Yeah, I know Cubase isn’t the perfect solution. I just think it’s the most stable out of the ones I have access to, and it’s not so far off the mark that I can’t do most of what I want with Bome’s MIDI Translator.

Cubase can not slave to MIDI Clock, unfortunately. (only to MIDI TimeCode, which of course doesn’t carry any tempo data).

Yep, you are right, vic_france, no MIDI clock input, doh! Sorry for the mis-information, strike that idea.

Years ago the Atari used to be able to follow a tapping tempo in real-time but it’s not there any more. Perhaps Ableton Live would be more the thing these days?

Actually, I will add that I reckon my Fantom could play back a track with tap-tempo and time-stretch it to fit. It also might very well be able to time-stretch samples to fit the tapped tempo too. And, it has 4 outs. Perhaps if you upgrade your keyboard? It’s not so good at organs though.


I’d upgrade to a Korg Kronos if I could; sadly, I don’t have the money to upgrade anything.

I guess for the short term, I can at least control tap tempo in Guitar Rig and only play back audio backing tracks without time stretching enabled (so tempo doesn’t matter). It’s not like I actually have to do much Cubase-specific work for this - just setting up MIDI tracks feeding into Kontakt instances - so if I really need more functionality down the road, it won’t be hard to move the whole solution to a different host.