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I currently record rehearsals where I change the tempo in between songs. The workflow goes like this:

  1. Tap tempo for song and hit record - all using a midi controller
  2. Hit stop at end of song - again with a midi controller
  3. Manually move playhead past end of song (using mouse - touching the computer for this step is annoying but tolerable)
  4. Repeat Steps 1 - 3

The problem is, at the end of rehearsal, if I go back and play any of the previous songs, the last tempo is still set. I have to manually enter the tempo which was used for that particular part of the night - the exact value of which is long gone and I have to "guess". Much worse, quickly clicking between songs to get a feel for the mix is next to impossible because I have to manually set the tempo between clicks.

I understand how to fix this with manual interventions (disabling "Warp" on clips, manually setting tempo automation, etc) - all of which involve "touching the mouse". But I want to limit my interactions with the computer during the creative process. I just want the song to playback at the tempo which was set at the time that part of the arrangement was recorded.

Note: I don't mind (and actually expect) the Song Tempo lane to look like this at the end of rehearsal without my manually doing it: enter image description here

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  • NOTE: I'm open to some sort of creative solution involving mapping midi to keyboard shortcuts or creating "macros" of sort to solve this. I'm in the process of doing just that to solve my "Step 3" issue for moving the playhead to the end of the song. Thanks! Dec 29 '20 at 3:18
  • Does it do anything different if you start recording before changing the tempo? Like just keep it recording between songs and see if it records the tempo change? Dec 29 '20 at 4:16
  • @ToddWilcox - thanks for your inquiry. I intentionally stop and start between takes so that I have multiple sections I can export instead of one long session where I have to go find all the start/stop points. Usually someone in the room plays something and sets the tempo, I'll tap it in and then start recording the song/idea/whatever. Dec 29 '20 at 18:41
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Ableton Live records tempo changes on an automation track, but only if you have some to begin with. So first you have to create some tempo automation.

Double-click on the tempo automation line to add an automation point. Double-click on the tempo curve

The line becomes a solid line, indicating that there is automation for that parameter. Tempo automation exists

And there's a red dot on the project's tempo indicator Tempo automation exists

You can now record, and Live will record your tempo changes. Ableton tempo automation recording

This is a useful "technique" to know. In Ableton Live versions prior to X.Y, this used to be the only way to create exact tempo automation values, for example if you wanted to get exactly tempo 100.000000000 bpm without zooming in to microscopical levels to be able to perform an ultra-precise mouse click, you had to type the tempo number in the tempo box and record it as automation.

If Ableton Live is set to EXT, i.e. as a sync slave to an external MIDI clock, then tempo automation will be ignored, because Live is not listening to its internal clock. This is the case for example when using a Ploytec 3-4-ONE or ONE-2 pedal, which works as a MIDI clock master. (Brilliant little devices by the way!)

EXT external sync must be off

However, you can use tap tempo also by simply remote-clicking the TAP button from an external MIDI device. In that case there is no problem. Or if you control the tempo with a remote-control knob, that's OK too and keeps Ableton as the tempo master.

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  • Thank you so much! This is exactly what I needed. The only unfortunate thing is that if you say 120bpm is the first automation marker, then you tap a tempo to 80bpm and hit record - this works. When you hit stop, the tempo returns to 120bpm. I wish it would stay at the last recorded tempo, but that's a minor inconvenience. Also, I am just using a midi pad mapped to the TAP button along with other pads mapped to play/record/stop. Thanks so much! Dec 29 '20 at 18:32
  • @RyanWheale I could totally feel your pain here. "Been there, done that." Most things in Ableton are very intuitive, and I love using it, but realizing that you need to double-click on the dotted line to enter "tempo recording mode" is just completely impossible to figure out, unless you find a detailed how-to guide on the exact thing you're trying to do. I agree on the wish to keep the last recorded tempo. You have to manually remove the last tempo automation point (which would restore the previous tempo) by double-clicking on it. Dec 29 '20 at 19:54
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    Yeah, I would love to not have to touch or look at the computer as I'd like to be able to record live without hunching over and mousing things, but they make 2 things impossible... even with keyboard shortcuts: 1) move Insert Marker to end of last clip, 2) allow Tempo to remain at last set value. Oh well. Thanks again! Dec 29 '20 at 21:38

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