I have a video of nature. I noticed that there are three repeating elements, one has 80.197844 bpm, the other 64.664 bpm and the other 67.4 bpm.

I want to compose music for it. To get started, how do I find a common denominator bpm value to create music that includes all the rhythms without sounding contradictory?

  • I would suggest starting off by rounding, but that won't help much because 67 is prime. If I were in your shoes I would remember that the main title theme to The Terminator is based on a loop that is not actually a full measure long at any tempo or time signature that matches the music, and the composer just performed along with it without a click track. So I wouldn't even try to get a firm tempo or beat, I would just play along as best I can and feel my way through it. – Todd Wilcox Dec 3 '15 at 20:10
  • The elements don't feel like they are working together. If I focus on one element, the other one goes out of tune naturally. Isn't there any mathematical way to bring everything under one roof even though 67 is a prime number? – Anders B. Dec 4 '15 at 2:31
  • Not that I know of, but I only took one semester of group theory. – Todd Wilcox Dec 4 '15 at 2:42

You need to find the ratios between the numbers, and try to fit these to round-number approximations. The actual values are not important (let alone microsecond precision!)

  • 64.7:80.2 is close to 4:5 ...Easy!
  • 64.7:67.4 is close to 24:25 ... hmmm

I honestly doubt if you can make anything musical out of a 24:25 ratio (other than poco piu mosso); I would think that it could be very interesting to make something out of 4:5 relative frequencies. (I hope this helps; I don't 100% understand what you plan to do.)


Construct simple, rhythmic musical lines at those three speeds and play them together. Maybe interesting cross-modulation patterns will emerge. Steve Reich did a lot of this sort of thing.

But, if nothing interesting DOES emerge, try a different musical concept. Remember, Steve Reich had to make a living doing furniture removals for a long time :-)


Having done similar projects, it's probably easier to speed up or slow down the videos so that they fit the music.

  • It is not, as all elements appear in the same video at the same time. – Anders B. Dec 3 '15 at 20:01

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.