I've had a full-fleshed out song in my head for days, but I can't figure out how to get it started. I THINK I have the tempo correct, but when I play it out, it doesn't line up with the measures, and this is always a problem for me.

I try to start with a basic drum bass structure first, and add the rest on top of that. That way I know I'm in time. But it never seems to line up correctly with the measures still. Anybody have any ideas?

Also, I'm using Logic.

  • 1
    Why do you need it to line up with the measures? Musically, the best thing is to forget about the DAWs rasters and just record the music. May 6, 2012 at 17:12
  • I just read about a program called Imitone that's on kickstarter, it may be of interest to you. At any rate do you play any instruments? If you can play it on a keyboard and hook it up via midi, it should make it easier for you to transcribe from your mind to the DAW.
    – MrTheBard
    Mar 31, 2014 at 12:08

3 Answers 3


Try and fully understand what rhythm you are working towards - and if necessary tap it out on a drum or something else so you can feel the beat. If you can describe it as 4/4 6/8 or standard structure then it should be straightforward.

If you can't time it physically, you will have problems getting it into a DAW.

Assuming you can do it audibly and make the tracks line up, try tapping along to a click track. If there is a great deal of swing or groove you may find it hard to use a standard beat in a DAW so you may want to record you tapping along with the click track to give you a fixed point of reference for the melody/chords.

  • Thanks for the answer, but that's the thing though, I HAVE been tapping the beats out, on boxes and tables. The drum part is very subdividy of the main beat I think. But when I thought I figured out the main non-changing beat, I went to all8.com's tap the beat to find the BPM tool, and the tempo I got is what I'm using in the project, and although the beginning and end seem to match up to measures, the inner measures seem to vary slightly, is this normal? It sounds right though May 5, 2012 at 20:35
  • Not sure exactly what you mean by inner measures. Do you mean you vary the bpm? Or do you have a bit of variation around the beat? Both can be normal, it's whatever works for you.
    – Doktor Mayhem
    May 5, 2012 at 20:52
  • I mean a bit of variation around the beat I think, causing melodies to overlap into other measures. Thanks, it's just that I've got it in my head that most pop-like music fits evenly into measures. Like that if you isolate a certain riff or melody, it would fit in measure 7 and 8, and then the chorus begins at exactly measure 9 and ends at measure...17 maybe, that kind of thing. May 5, 2012 at 23:55

From your question, it seems you are totally confused about what to make, what instruments to use. I assume you are using virtual instruments for scratches, synths, bass and all other things. I will tell you an alternate (reverse) method for making a song. Some people use it, but I won't recommend you using it forever.

Now you have a tune in mind, put some words into it instead of throwing some drums and sticks first. Complete the tune, record it without any instruments, upload it to one of the tracks in your DAW. Now try using different instruments with that track. Listen, Listen again and listen again and choose what fits the best. Complete the track that way. I won't recommend you doing this always. Just give it a try.


It sounds as if you have conceived a song that doesn't fit the standard pop song format of 8 or 16 bar sections, with the same bar length throughout. That's fine. Plenty of songs don't. Stop trying to force your song into a rigid structure and find out just what it DOES do. Maybe there are 7, 9 or 13-bar sections. Maybe some bars have 4 beats, some have 3 (or 5, or 7...).

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