"This is how pros fix the tempo of any recording ..."

The attached vid has been much trotted out, including by yours truly, to help answer questions about how to work with free-tempo recorded audio. It’s what I use, and it’s great, but …

There’s one thing I always struggle with when I do that, and that’s how to choose where to drag/drop the bar/beat line to preserve something played with creative intentions just off the beat … for example a bass or snare played “in the pocket”, or in my case a rhythm piano played just ahead of or behind the beat.

For example … let’s say I layed down a piano rhythm part consisting of chord stabs, with the idea they would be “just a bit early” on every beat (the rationale for doing any of this being to smooth out “too crazy” tempo variations, and to establish a grid to help help line up subsequently recorded parts). So where do I drag/drop the beat/bar line relative to the recorded rhythm stabs? Clearly I wouldn’t drag/drop them right on the rhythm chord stabs, because that would wind up with the same result as if I’d quantized them.

So I have to drag/ drop the bar/ beat line to just a bit after the chord appears. But how much? A consistent sixteenth or 32nd note early? Something like that but with some very small amount of randomization/“humanization” as well?

And then maybe the amount the chord stabs anticipate the beat isn’t quite the same in the verse as the chorus …

It’s not as straightforward in my mind as the vid makes it sound. I know there’s no single answer to how to do this sort of thing in the way that preserves live timing the best, but I thought maybe if I opened this question up to you smart and helpful guys with more experience I might get some helpful hints …

Thank you in advance for any thoughts! :blush:

Over time I’ve come to embrace letting the Tempo go a bit crazy. I’ve done some Tempo Detection on recordings from before The Age of Quantization and am struck by how much the Tempo jumps around and yet it sounds like a solid beat.

Well if something is “in the pocket” then it’s going to be a bit late behind the beat. But how much is going to vary depending on how it originally got played.

I think the best way to use Dom’s technique is to only put Tempo changes on the 1 beat (assuming the rhythm is moderately stable), and only when it clear from the Audio where that beat is on the timeline - if it is ambiguous don’t put a Tempo Event there, just let it ride. Generally if you do this the ‘off the beat’ stuff will naturally end up being placed the right amount before or after the grid.

A couple of side comments. 1) While I typically don’t use the metronome it can be useful in this situation to aurally check where your grid is relative to the Audio. 2) Tempo Tracks support Track Versions so you can try different things out without committing.

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Yup, using a term I didn’t understand, sorry. Basically I meant either that or (in another project or song section, e.g.) playing a little before the beat

Good stuff, thanks :blush:

I agree, these two things help a lot.

Thanks, Raino, very helpful comments as always :+1: :grinning: