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I have some recorded track vocals that I would like to work with in GarageBand. For example, add a beat soundtrack to it. The problem is I fail at exactly matching the bpm of the vocals track.

I try playing around with the master bpm, sometimes seems like I've got it, but after a while you can hear the gap in synchronization increasing more and more.

Is there any way to systematically succeed at matching a track's beat in GarageBand?

  • Is it a professional created acapella? The reason I ask is that if it was just someone singing the song, then it probably wasn't recorded to a click. – 02fentym Apr 29 '17 at 20:35
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    Right, there's no "systematic way" that doesn't depend on the acapella having a system—an underlying tempo. If you want the best answer you'll need to provide more info on the acapella and whether it was recorded to a defined tempo. A vocal recorded to a click should sync up from any given point. An isolated vocal recorded to a backing band but no click should mostly sync up but may drift out gradually because backing bands aren't drum machines. A vocal recorded without a steady tempo at all might have to be sync'd phrase by phrase and/or use time stretching. – user37496 Apr 30 '17 at 0:55
  • As far as I'm aware, there is no way to do beat matching in Garageband, also called Beat Mapping. You can automate the tempo to have it change and try to follow the prerecorded track though, which is basically the same thing but involves more work/guess and check. This is one of the downfalls of using something like Garageband. It's free (with purchase of expensive computer), which is great, and does a really good job for most needs of a normal musician, however, it falls short on any more advanced needs. You can often accomplish what you need but it's way more work and time to do so. – Basstickler Apr 16 '18 at 16:20
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Can you slice your drum track into individual hits and then place them manually, maybe phrase by phrase? Do you have a midi keyboard or pads that would allow you to create a simple beat along with your vocals? You could then try matching the one you want to use to the simple one you created. The other option would be to try editing the vocal to match the tempo.

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Despite the commented objection to the answer above from @robert winsly, he may have the right idea. It seems that your vocal track wasn't recorded at a constant tempo. In fact, unless it was specifically recorded against a click, it's almost certain its tempo varies. It IS possible to align a sequencer tempo map to such a recording, either manually, by entering individual tempo changes, or with some degree of automation - though I think you'll need a more advanced program than Garage Band for that. But think what you'll get. A continually-varying tempo map. When you program a beat over that, you'll just get what sounds like a drummer who can't keep time! Not a very good groove.

So you try the other way. Fool around with the vocal track to tweak it into a steady tempo. This will involve slicing it into chunks, moving and/or time-stretching each one to get it 'on the beat'. But however skilfully done, you'll hear the artefacts.

Much better to re-record the vocals to a click, or (better) to a dummy drum track. Though what you're asking for CAN be done, it's turd-polishing (you can polish a turd all you like, but you'll never get a good shine). Far too much of today's 'music production' involves turd-polishing, when a better (and easier) approach would be to go back and record it right in the first place.

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You can follow the method i use but for this you should know how to write a vocal in music notation by hearing the vocal or by playing the lead using a instrument.

1) Write the vocal in music notation (Lead sheet) form in any of the notation writing software with defined tempo.i use muse score for this (free music writing software) 2) Export the vocal in wav format and import in garage band- select the scale, meter and tempo of the song. 3) Add a software instrument dum beat and allow to run. 4) Sing and record the vocal along with the tempo of the Vocal wav file imported in garage band.Follow the tempo of wav fil without any lapse.

Now save with the vocal recorded and the drum part - There will not be any mismatch of tempo. Your song is ready with excellent drum beats.

  • This doesn't seem to answer the OP's question. OP already has a vocal track, and wants to add rhythm tracks. It seems like you are suggesting that OP should record rhythm tracks first, then record the vocal track to the rhythm tracks. – David Bowling Apr 16 '18 at 15:55
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If you want to measure the thickness of a piece of paper, that's hard to do with one sheet, but easy if we have 500 sheets - we can measure the total thickness and divide by 500. We can use a similar trick if we have a long instrumental or vocal solo part that was recorded to a click (or steady beat):

  • load up the solo into an audio editor of your choice (or your DAW might be good enough)
  • place a marker exactly on a '1' beat (first beat of the bar) near the start of the solo recording
  • place another marker on a '1' beat near the end of the solo recording
  • count (in your head) how many bars there are between those two points
  • calculate the time difference in minutes between your two markers
  • the BPM is then (no. of bars x beats per bar) / time difference in minutes

e.g. if the difference between the markers is 1 minute, and you counted 30 bars of 4/4, then the BPM = (30 * 4) / 1 = 120 BPM.

The main point of this technique is that if you use the longest section possible of your vocal track to work out the BPM, it minimises error - you're measuring lots of 'beats' all together and then dividing, just like with the paper.

Of course there may be challenges in counting if there are long silences in the recording - in this case it might be best to split up the recording and sync each piece separately. And if the original vocal wasn't recorded to a click, that's when you start to need fancy time-stretching and beat matching tools.

  • I basically use this method to determine the BPM of video game themes that I transcribe. – Dekkadeci Jul 17 '18 at 5:06

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