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Finding the Tempo of a Beat or Sample

Tempo of a sample

As important as the key of a sample is the tempo of a sample. There are many methods of finding the tempo of a song/sample, but I will concentrate on the two most popular. There most common and simplest method is to use a ‘tempo (bpm) calculator’, of which there are many freely available ones on the internet.

I am going to use a sample that I have just extracted (lifted) from cd and am going to attempt finding it’s tempo by using a bpm calculator by a company called MixMeister.

First, here is the sample extract. I decided to use this sample as it is not a drum pattern and thus easy to calculate, but it does have repetition in it’s structure which does make it easier in locating bar points.

Hook 2 plus drums.mp3

By simply dragging and dropping this file into the MixMeister, the software instantly calculates the tempo and lists it. It can also work on entire folders and list all the bpms of all the files within it and export the results as a text document.

MixMeister hook2

And here it is in action calculating a load of files in one of my folders.

MixMeister multiple import and calc

Ther5e are so many softwares nowadays that will auto locate tempo. Almost all DAWs and some audio editors will have this function.

Although this is probably the simplest and quickest method of calculating bpms of audio files, I find that I still prefer the old school method of importing the file into a sequencer and matching start and end times.

Bpm matching old school

I have imported the same audio sample into Cubase and set my locators to the start and end times. By doing this I am able to adjust the tempo until I get a perfect loop.

As you can see, my figure differs from the bpm calculator. I have a tempo of 130.7 against the bpm calculator’s result of 132.04.

However, using bpm calculators can give you a head start in selecting a ballpark tempo for the imported sample. The rest is up to you to edit and conclude the bpm matching. But you will find that the tempo calculator can be more accurate than the manual method (old school) depending on the material being processed and start and end times.