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Topic: Need some major help with tempo changes

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  1. #1

    Need some major help with tempo changes

    Hey Gang,

    Sorry if this is a little OT. I need your expertise...I\'m used to working with your typical pop and ballad type stuff where everything lines up on the beat, but I\'ve been doing some film work and I need some tempo advice with orchestral music.
    Basically, I want to be able to compose orchestral pieces with free flowing tempos to match the visuals in the scene, but I also need the notes to line up with the beats in each measure so I can edit and arrange in the piano roll window without the start times being all over the place.
    So, how the heck do you do this? Do you compose the piece with a straight click track then adjust the tempos to match the scene? This seems very unnatural, though. Is there a way to watch the video and actually tap a tempo in and create your own tempo map? Or do you just turn off the click altogether, set a general tempo, and line everything up in the edit window? That\'s actually what I\'ve been doing, and it\'s a nightmare...I know there has to be a better way.
    I\'d be extremely interested to hear how you\'re doing it...sequencer program doesn\'t matter (I\'ll switch if need be to whatever makes the most sense), just let me know how you go about doing it. Many thanks for your time!!

    Regards,
    Scott


    [This message has been edited by Scott Speed (edited 04-13-2002).]

  2. #2

    Re: Need some major help with tempo changes

    I\'d be interested in others\' thoughts on this as well.

    Here\'s what I\'ve done. I use Cakewalk (SONAR now), which has a \"fit improvisation\" function. Basically it lets you record something freely, then you can artificially create another track which has notes where all the quarter notes belong. You do the fit improvisation function, and it rearranges the tempos so that your original track sounds the same, but the quarter notes line up where they should.

    Sounds nice, but it\'s *very* limited. The first quarter note *must* be at measure 1, beat 1, tick 0. The resulting tempi can\'t go outside the bounds that Cakewalk/SONAR can handle. The reference notes have to be quarter notes. There can\'t be *anything* other than the quarter notes on the reference track; all events are treated alike. Etc. etc. If you want to get inside the quarter notes and notate triplets, sixteenths, and so on with lots of rubato, you can\'t do it (well, you could, but it would be extremely difficult).

    So I wrote a program that improves on this a bit. It lets me set where to begin and end the tempo adjustment (not just starting from 1:1:0). The reference track contains all the notes, not just quarter notes, notated exactly as I want them, and the tempi will be adjusted accordingly. So if I want a quintuplet followed by a triplet followed by some dotted sixteenths, all very rubato, I can do that and have it notated precisely.

    The program seems to work, but it\'s so clunky to use and so untested that I\'d be embarrassed to make it generally available. I\'d really like to find out if anybody knows of a better solution.

  3. #3

    Re: Need some major help with tempo changes

    Depending on the final product I vary between two techniques:

    1)sync the video to the sequencer, turn off the metronome and compose around the picture. This requires a decent sense of rhythm and phrasing of course, but it certainly gives you the smoothest results.
    I set up keyframes and cue punches where things are happening on screen and compose around those.

    2) If the final media is a real orchestra or any live ensemble (I\'m sorry but i\'ve only worked with small ensembles and out of film context), the best way to do it is to establish a sort of mood and rhythm in the visuals. I always write a lot of fermatas and usually avoid a time signature in the score to have most flexibility when conducting. Most musicians should be used to this. This way you can control the music without problems as long as you keep general notes in the score.

    With this approach it is fairly simple. Just orchestrate a general sketch in your sequencer without any fancy tempo changes, and go from there. Writing the score in sibelius/finale is at LEAST half the job in this case.


    Good luck,
    Thomas

  4. #4

    Re: Need some major help with tempo changes

    I suppose it depends somewhat on what kind of sequencer you use. Personally, I use Logic 5 on the mac which has a tap tempo feature; I\'ve used it on occasion with some reasonable succes, but you always end up having to do some \'surgery\' afterwards. Another method is to identify some key points in the scene, which you want to hit on a downbeat. Than decide the time signature and adjust the tempo so that most of your beats roughly line up with the start of a measure. What I tend to do then is insert little tempochanges at the the fourth beat of a measure to compensate for the next beat being early or late.
    So for instance, say I have a 4/4 signature and a tempo of 100 bpm, and I notice that in the second measure my downbeat is late, I insert a tempochange at the fourth beat of my first measure with a value of something like 103.5 . It takes some fiddling but I often find that these changes are too small to notice but enough to work around and get your stuff in sync with the picture.

    Just my two cents,

    Cheerio,

    Joe


    [This message has been edited by Joris de Man (edited 04-13-2002).]

  5. #5

    Re: Need some major help with tempo changes

    These guys make a pretty serious piece of software for setting hit points, writing to picture and making changes as needed: http://www.webcom.com/~auricle/

    If you don\'t want to get that far into it, a sequencer like Cubase will let you play a part in freely (no tempo restriction), lock it in place (so that it\'s immune to changes in tempo), and then create a tempo map by tapping along in time with your piece.

    I found this more detailed post on the Cubase forum (replace audio track with giude track for your purposes). I think you\'ll find most of the good seqencers available today will let you do something similar:

    >quote<
    After you create hitpoints by banging out the tempo, leave them as hitpoints. Turn snap to off.

    Make any adjustments to the hitpoint positions so they they occur where you want them to in relation to your guitar track.

    Set the left locator to where you want the first hit point to end up. Set the right locator to one unit more than where you want the last hit point to end up.

    Let\'s say that your first hitpoint occurs around measure 1.3.1.0, and you tap out 16 bars of quarter notes, for 64 hitpoints. Set your left locator to 2.1.1.0, and your right locator to 18.1.1.0. Set the snap value to what you tapped; 4 in this example for quarter notes.

    Do: Fill Meter Hitpoints. Now you have 64 hitpoints in both the time hitpoint strip and the meter hitpoint strip.

    Do: Link Hitpoints One to One.
    Do: Staighten Up Hitpoints.

    The first sound of your guitar should now fall on 2.1.1.0, and the tempo should follow the guitar track or 16 bars.

    (The first meter hitpoint needs to be at the begining of the second rather than the first meausure because if you try to put the guitar starting at 1.1.1.0, there is nowhere for the lead-in of the audio to go. )
    >end quote<

    Also found this handy article in SOS::
    http://www.sospubs.co.uk/sos/sep01/articles/cubasenotes0901.asp


    [This message has been edited by Chadwick (edited 04-13-2002).]

  6. #6

    Re: Need some major help with tempo changes

    Hey Joris, how about that email already?
    Are you busy? (Still waiting)

    Thomas

  7. #7

    Re: Need some major help with tempo changes

    Pen and paper is still the best IMO, if the piece is purely orchestral and you\'re conducting the score yourself that is. Its easier to know how everything fits and rubato is far more freely and naturally applied. Literally go through and jot down all the hit points etc and take it from there. You can then do a mock-up on a sequencer for the team so they get a good impression of what the end result sounds like. If they\'re pleased then print the score on Sibelius.

    Of course, for those cues that demand a click track, mocking it up first, transferring the loose midi files to Sibelius and tidying it up there to a full score is quicker these days.

    If you prefer to employ a contract conductor then a mock up without any click AT ALL and don\'t press quantise!. Any half decent experienced conductor will be able to see what you want.


  8. #8

    Re: Need some major help with tempo changes

    Many thanks for the answers so far! This is very interesting reading. Michael, this is strictly for midi scoring since most of the films I do don\'t have a budget for doughnuts, let alone an orchestra...
    What I\'m basically looking for is how someone efficiently composes to visuals with tempo changes using a sequencer...efficiently to me means it has to line up with the beats in each measure so you can edit multiple tracks with relative ease. Good timing and pacing between notes is not something I can easily do just winging it, so I\'m hoping someone does this routinely and would like to share their system.
    After reading these posts, here\'s what I\'m thinking.
    1.Establish hitpoints and do a rough track to establish the feel and general timing.
    2.Lock it in place as Chadwick had suggested so tempo changes don\'t affect it and use it as a reference track.
    3.Create a quantized score for the scene, then \"tap tempo\" to match the rough track/visuals.
    4.Make necessary note and controller changes to polish it.

    This make any sense? Anyone have a better scenario? Hey Robert...if you wanna do a practice answer before your interview, feel free to chime in!

    Regards,
    Scott

    [QUOTE]Originally posted by Micheal Chase:
    [B]Pen and paper is still the best IMO, if the piece is purely orchestral and you\'re conducting the score yourself that is.

  9. #9

    Re: Need some major help with tempo changes

    I use the Sonar \"fit to improvisation\" method, although I must agree that it is not without its flaws.

    If you\'re just doing this for midi sequencing, my question is, why worry about tempos at all? If the music you play into the sequencer sounds the way you want it and fits with the video, it doesn\'t really need beats or tempos within the sequencer to line up. I have lots of sequences where I just hit record and played, with total disregard to the tempo, and never lined it up with beats at all.

    My girlfriend who is a piano player, refuses to play with a metronome, so when I record her playing, I just let her play and not worry about lining up beats.

    I would say just trust yourself, and if you have to make some touch-ups, do that after the fact.

  10. #10

    Re: Need some major help with tempo changes

    If I was doing just a piano track or something simple, I would have no problem going free form...but when I have 10 to 30 tracks of instruments that come in and out at various times, it becomes a nightmare to micromanage each track in relation to the whole.
    I need to be able to have consistent reference points when I\'m bouncing from track to track, drawing in controller fades, editing notes, fiddling with start times, working out harmonies and what not...To do that, I need things to be more or less on the beat. Hope I\'m getting my point across.

    Regards,
    Scott

    <BLOCKQUOTE><font size=\"1\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Vertigo50:

    If you\'re just doing this for midi sequencing, my question is, why worry about tempos at all? If the music you play into the sequencer sounds the way you want it and fits with the video, it doesn\'t really need beats or tempos within the sequencer to line up. I have lots of sequences where I just hit record and played, with total disregard to the tempo, and never lined it up with beats at all.

    My girlfriend who is a piano player, refuses to play with a metronome, so when I record her playing, I just let her play and not worry about lining up beats.

    I would say just trust yourself, and if you have to make some touch-ups, do that after the fact.[/B]<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>



    [This message has been edited by Scott Speed (edited 04-15-2002).]

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