I am working on a baroque string piece (Rondeau from Abdelazer) as a way to learn to program strings and in general get better at orchestrating and using the software. One thing puzzles me quite a bit. The original score says tempo is 95, but if I set it to 95 in Studio One, it is unbearably slow. I am currently working on it at 160 and my version is still somewhat slower than most renditions I can find on Youtube. Am I missing something?
Based on your description, it seems there is a problem on how you treat the tempo on score and on the DAW. The easy fix is to treat half notes in score as quarter notes in DAW. (I will be using FL studio for demonstration, since I don't have Studio One. But I believe all these DAWs are similar)
Tempo on the score
You can see the tempo 100 here (in red circle) means 100 half notes per minutes.
Solution 1: Treat half notes in score as quarter notes in DAW
The score indicate that a one beat has the length of a half note, you need to make sure you convey the same meaning in your DAW. Since the major grids in DAW indicates the beat position, you just need to draw the half notes on DAW to fully occupy one major grid as shown below. The time signature in the DAW is 3/4.
For other notes, you just need to scale accordingly, for example:
Half note = Full major grid
Quarter note = Half major grid
Eighth note = 1/4 major grid
Solution 2: Keep the midi note lenght same as the score notation
If you really want to maintain the same note lenghts both in the DAW and the sheet music, then you need to change the tempo in the DAW accordingly. In your case, the tempo in the DAW should be 200 as shown below. In this case, the DAW would be having the time signature of 6/4.
I had a similar confusion when experimenting in Reason today. Thus I did some research on what is defined as a beat in respect to BPM. Turns out, just stating a BPM value is ambiguous and should include a definition of what note value the BPM refers to as well. In sheet music you would see that as e.g.
half note = 100 like in the example @Raven Cheuk posted.
With trial and error I found out that the BPM in Reason – the only DAW I currently have installed – always refers to quarter notes.
If I were to transcribe sheet music in a DAW, I'd prefer to see the same note value and bar structure as in given music piece. This means in your case I would double the BPM. As the DAW bases tempo on quarter notes, the equivalent tempo in half notes also is half that – in other words
half note = 100 on the sheet and
200 BPM in the DAW (when based on quarter notes) are the same tempo.
In the end it all comes down to taste and whatever makes most sense in your situation. Similarly, the time signature is used to communicate "where the rhythm is felt" and thus specified by the composer. In this context I'd expect the DAW to base the BPM on the lower number (denominator) of the time signature, or at least make if configurable.
After looking into this I find it weird that the BPM behaviour is hardcoded to quarter notes and there is no setting for that in Reason – I'd like to see the option "sync with denominator". I'd be interested to see how other DAWs approach this.
EDIT: More experiments with different DAWs/ audio software:
- Denominator can only be power of 2 (2, 4, 8, 16, etc.)
- BPM always refers to quarter notes per minute
- You can set denominator arbitrary (e.g. 5/7 time signature)
- BPM always refers to quarter notes per minute, not regarding the time signature
- Doesn't feature time signatures (AFAICT)
- You can add a rhythm track (specifying BPM for this track), setting beats per bar, but no signature (denominator), thus the BPM always reflect the BPB setting). This gives you all the flexibility, but syncing tracks with different time signatures, needs you to do the calculation yourself. This generates a simple audio track with given click/ beat sounds btw.
- You can set time signatures per event (different ones as well), but they must have a denominator with power of 2 (2, 4, 8, 16, etc.).
- BPM always refers to quarter notes no matter the event or project time signature.