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ojan327
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re-creating instrumentals without a set bpm

Fri May 05, 2017 1:35 pm

Hi, I'm sure a music expert would have some insight on this 

But I would like to know why certain songs seem not have a set bpm?  Hip hop seems to always have a set bpm but I'm trying to re-create some older reggae songs using software instruments and it makes it difficult because I'm having to perform the songs one instrument at the time from beginning to end, without being able to loop or quantize.  


I feel like there has to be a way to make my job easier!  Thanks! 
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MikeRobinson
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Re: re-creating instrumentals without a set bpm

Thu May 11, 2017 6:53 am

I'd think that the closest approximation to this would be to slightly vary the Tempo during the course of a passage.  You can also "slide" groups of notes slightly off-the-beat, not randomly but trying to mimic a human performer.

It's well known that in most songs the chorus is slightly faster than the verse.  A change of just a few BPM makes an audible if rather subliminal difference.

I like to perform passages, but I'll often do it one phrase at a time.  I'll record several "takes" of a repeated phrase, and keep all the "good" ones.  Then, I'll duplicate that section but keep a different take in each copy.  (It's usually necessary to "nudge" them very slightly to keep them on-the-beat.)  I'm building the final song so that it is the product of human performance, even though I did not actually perform it "straight through."

(On any song, I always start with a "guide track" that I do try to perform "straight through," simply repeating any "clammed" sections so that I can cut them out later.  This guide-track is muted, but it is kept, and I find myself referencing it frequently to get the timing just right.  (Pan the guide-track hard left and the section you're working on hard-right so that you can easily listen to them together.)  Sometimes I'll "steal notes" from the guide track and paste them directly into another instrument's track as a starting point.)  I never delete the guide track(s) from the project: I just stuff 'em into a track-stack and mute it, and maybe hide it.

I also never "quantize" unless I'm having a 1980's flashback.   :D
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angelonyc
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Re: re-creating instrumentals without a set bpm

Thu May 18, 2017 4:40 am

Older songs did not use computers..  In the 70's .  The band just played,   If the bass player and drummer didn't have a great senses of time.  there was going to always be trouble, There will always be microscopic speed ups/downs.   In the late 80's and 90's Daws got better, and then there were were crystal controlled sync..  So it was totally locked on..    That has it's good and bad points..  Some complained the music was too perfect, and sterile.  When a live band is tight, they can adjust tempo, and it will sound solid cause everyone is locked in..  

With no sync track, the simpler the song is the easier it is to hide the time differences.. As song gets busier and more intricate..  It will be hard to 'fit in 16th's and 32nd notes..  

I would make a beat map so that you can cut and paste..  
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aleos
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Re: re-creating instrumentals without a set bpm

Thu Jun 01, 2017 12:25 pm

ojan327 wrote:
Hi, I'm sure a music expert would have some insight on this 

But I would like to know why certain songs seem not have a set bpm?  Hip hop seems to always have a set bpm but I'm trying to re-create some older reggae songs using software instruments and it makes it difficult because I'm having to perform the songs one instrument at the time from beginning to end, without being able to loop or quantize.  


I feel like there has to be a way to make my job easier!  Thanks! 

A set, unwavering BPM is, most likely, even for the most disciplined and technical classical performers nearly impossible. This is, say, rock and roll from 3 decades ago, 'feels' different than now. I am not taking a side, I love both metronomic electronic beats, as well as loose, behind the beat or rushing rhythm. 
I read an article/analysis, a few years ago, and on 'OK Computer', on one of the songs, (I unfortunately can't remember the song) Radiohead speeds up something like 15-20BPM. I am not referring to tempo changes for obvious different sections e.g. Paranoid Android)  In music school for classical or jazz training,  this is a big fat NO-NO. Unless of course it is part of the arrangement. But in the case of the Radiohead song, it is not. But then again, why is it a 'no-no'? 
You might want to do an experiment. Pick an old reggae song you like. Try to find the average speed of the first 30 seconds, then try to find the average speed of the last 30 seconds. Is there is a difference? Did it happen somewhere specific, like in the chorus, or was it a gradual raising of BPM? Most musicians, can have a tendency, when playing with others, to speed up. We've all done it. I constantly hear it in my students. When we're playing. It's part of the excitement of music. But it can't be too much of change, or it might sound ridiculous.
If you set a gradual raise in the BPM of about 10bpm for a 4 minute song, and play a long with the metronome (or better yet drummer), I don't thing you'll notice it, and  it may give it the some of the spirit of the old reggae tunes you're looking for. 
(then again, knowing reggae's drug of choice, maybe many pieces slow down. ;)
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