Question for songwriters regarding tempo searching

Songwriters search for the best tempo for the melody, and often work with a virtual drum instrument. I usually just do this with the vocal melody, to find what feels right.

Because there’s not one button where you can universally change both the audio and midi drum instrument, what is the simplest approach you use while searching for the best tempo?

For example:

What is your preference setting: Musical, Linear, or Follow Transport Main Display?

Do you use the tempo track, or just change the fixed to a different BPM and make sure your Drum MIDI track is in Musical Mode. Does it matter either way?

Is it worth it to time stretch your audio? Or do you simply change the tempo and sing the part again?

Thanks for any tips and advice you can give working within Cubase to write songs!!

Hi Swerveman -

I use the tempo track, rather than just changing to a different fixed BPM in the transport bar. But this is mainly because different parts of my songs have different tempos. Otherwise, the one-button click would probably be what I chose.

And audio stretching for me is OK for self-demo purposes (i.e., to determine if the new tempo is the right one), but I’ll re-sing when I settle on the right tempo.

But … the main thing I do is try to avoid all the above stuff by endless practicing/rehearsing, even before recording, like I’m singing live in a small club, just me and my piano, until the right tempo declares itself over time. I might check it out with a scratch recording, but the main work of figuring out the “right” tempo has been done long before that. Only then do I do the real work of recording and subsequent steps. To me, the added benefit of doing it this way is that things like phrasing and such are so much better by the time I get to tape.

Just my 2c on what works for me, FWIW.

Thanks for your reply Alexis.

I agree, there’s no substitute for getting a feel for something before tracking. Starting with the Tempo Track makes sense.

For me it quite often boils down to several distinct operations. First there’s the writing where I get creative, get a feel for what I want, record midi and record audio. Then there’s the arranging where I cut the ideas up, speed up, slow down, song length etc. Once I’ve settled on the arrangement and specifically the tempo(s) then I start recording. During this stage I’ll most likely replace everything that’s audio unless I have real trouble repeating the vibe. I’ll tidy up midi or improve it, and pick instruments. When it’s all recorded I switch to mixing, although I’m often mixing as I go along in a rough manner just to keep the vibe.

So, to answer your question, I keep the tempo flexible while writing the music and I fix the tempo when I’m finalising the arrangement. I’d start off by tapping a rough tempo or recording freehand, then I’d fill in the tempo map as I go along. If I’ve got audio at different/wrong speeds then I’ll use musical mode or time-stretching to create the arrangement on the basis that I’ll replace it later. I even use things like pitch shift on audio for instant key changes, sounds awful sometimes but it serves the arrangement and 'll be replaced later.