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I'm trying to remix a song (which I have yet to find) and add a basic drum track and some bass to it. I am basically looking for acoustic versions / covers of popular songs (with no drums), which I will add the drum track to. However in order for this to work, I need to know the tempo, and ideally that tempo has to stay the same for the entire song (or at least it shouldn't fluctuate from verse to verse). Songs recorded in the studio have constant tempo, but covers aren't professionally recorded, so there could be tempo fluctuations. So if my drum track goes steady and the song fluctuates just a bit, it will seem out of sync.

So my question is, is there a way to quickly tell if a song has constant tempo, or will I just have to pull the metronome out and start following the beats? I am using FL Studio for the editing and stuff, if that's any help.

  • Sorry if this is a dumb question -- but why don't you listen to the song you want to accompany on the drums with earbuds, while you are playing and recording yourself? – aparente001 Oct 22 '15 at 6:22
  • I don't have physical drums. I'm producing the drums electronically via a software called FL Studio. That means that the tempo needs to be perfectly aligned, or people will be able to hear the difference. – Eduard Luca Oct 22 '15 at 8:22
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What I would do in your case is put the acoustic track in my editor.

Then I would play the acoustic track while tapping out the beat on a mic and record the mic tapping on a separate track below the acoustic track.

Then I would add my drum track below the tapping track.

I would then be able to visually see, after just one time through the tune, if all the beats lined up by comparing the peaks of my tapping track with the peaks of my drum track.

If it's close, then I would stretch and shrink my acoustic and tapping tracks to fit.

And then mute my tapping track.

Hope this helps!

  • Thanks, it's probably the closest I'm going to get. This method is prone to (my) human error, but I guess that's the best thing I can do right now. – Eduard Luca Oct 20 '15 at 12:05
  • This solution is contingent upon your ability to accurately time your beats. Try playing this little game here to see how inaccurate human-tapping is: concerthotels.com/got-rhythm – jjmusicnotes Oct 20 '15 at 13:30
  • In my experience, foot tapping is pretty accurate. Maybe it's more accurate than finger tapping. Maybe you should kick the mic. :-) – pro Oct 20 '15 at 16:44
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Even if music is professionally recorded in a studio, the tempo is not guaranteed to be precise unless they record with a metronome. Having done many transcriptions over the years, I find it interesting that most bands don't use metronomes (and some don't even tune!)

Since most of the pablum on the radio is dance music and is electronically produced, it shouldn't be hard to determine a steady tempo.

An easy way to calculate tempo is the same method doctors/nurses use to take your pulse: count the number of beats in six seconds, then multiply by ten. Boom, you have your tempo. If you cue up a rhythm track and you find out your track and the recording start to deviate, then you know that their tempo fluctuates.

Fortunately, it's pretty straightforward to micro-adjust tempo in FL Studio; that, unfortunately, is just trial and error.

Last thought: always make sure you secure permission before using someone else's work.

  • Pablum........? – Tim Oct 20 '15 at 10:26
  • That's a good way to determine the tempo, but not a great one. In FL Studio I need the BPM to 2 decimal points, or the offset will be noticeable. With your method I can approximate the tempo, and then fine-tune it by going up or down. So far I've only found 1 acoustic song for which the tempo is perfectly constant, but I need more :) – Eduard Luca Oct 20 '15 at 12:03
  • @Tim ˈpabləm/ noun noun: pabulum; noun: pablum bland or insipid intellectual fare, entertainment, etc.; pap. – jjmusicnotes Oct 20 '15 at 13:31
  • @EduardLuca To be fair, you asked for a quick way to determine constant tempo, not the most accurate. To guarantee that any song you want to use will work, you'll either need to transcribe the music into FL Studio or learn it yourself and re-record with a metronome. I've done both. Both require work, but both come out well. There are many things in life where the answer is: work. Sorry, no get-finished-quick schemes here. – jjmusicnotes Oct 20 '15 at 13:39
  • @Tim Not a problem :) – jjmusicnotes Oct 21 '15 at 4:07
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Even two tracks made in a sequencer set to the same tempo will drift apart over the length of a song. That's why the advanced sequencers like Cubase have tools for detecting tempo, aligning and stretching audio clips etc. Forget about finding two versions of a song that fit together perfectly, concentrate on finding and using the tools that will MAKE them fit. I don't know FL very well, but I think this is exactly the sort of music construction it's designed for.

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