Trying to create a tempo map with the wrong tool is like fixing a car engine with chopsticks. It’s a nightmare, and it doesn’t work. Fortunately, Logic Pro X has the tools you need to create a tempo map with ease.
Over the past few months, I’ve had to do a few tempo maps for an orchestrator. For the first project, I was provided with a piano track. Once I got the workflow down, it was pretty simple. The second project was more complicated. I was provided a vocal arrangement, and had to create a tempo map from that.
In this tutorial, I’ll be using a section from Rachmaninov’s First Piano Concerto to demonstrate tempo mapping. Below is an audio file.
Let’s make a few observations.
- The piece is in cut time (2/2)
- The tempo is Moderato (Half Note = 66 BPM)
Now, it’s time to open up Logic Pro X, and import the audio file. Since we already determined the time signature and approximate tempo of the piece, let’s put those in as well.
Next, press ⌘⇧B to bring up the Beat Mapping Global Track, which displays the waveform for the selected audio track.
Click on Beat Mapping, followed by Analyze Transients. Logic Pro X will analyze the audio file, looking for transients. Depending on what you’re working on, the transient analysis feature can be super helpful or completely counter-productive. Just keep this in mind, and remember you can always add or remove transients later on.
For the purpose of this tutorial, we’ll be manually adding transients, so click the the minus button until all of them have disappeared.
Transient editing can’t be done in the Arrange window. You’ll need to use Logic’s Audio File Editor, so click on the waveform, and press ⌘6. You should see a something like this. Click the transient icon to enable Transient Editing Mode.
To add a transient, hold down ⌘ and click on the audio waveform. In the screenshot below, I’ve added transients for each half note in m1-7, and each quarter note in m8.
Now, go back to the the arrange window. In the Beat Mapping global track, you should see the transients you added.
To map the transients to Logic’s grid, highlight the beat division you want to map, and drag to the desired transient.
After mapping a few more transients, you’ll see the tempo track change.
A few things to keep in mind when tempo mapping.
- It’s a good idea to put in time signature changes before mapping.
- Logic’s transient detection can save you time in certain situations.
- In some cases, you may not want your audio to warp. To achieve this, uncheck Follow Tempo & Pitch in the region inspector.
- If you’re mapping a complex piece, start with downbeats, and add more transients later on.
- It’s best to use one track as your “reference”. If you receive a session with lots of tracks, bounce it down to a stereo file, and import it into the session. If the session has a rhythmic instrument like drums, just bounce that down to use as a reference.
Here’s an audio file with a click track following the new tempo map.