Counting BPM

Tips and techniques of the trade

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cybermaximus
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Counting BPM

#1 Post by cybermaximus » Fri Apr 18, 2003 6:04 pm

How does everyone here count BPM on songs? I downloaded a program that has me hit the spacebar on every beat as I listen to it, and it pops out a number, but I discovered that it likes to speed it up (a listed 136 song popped up at 158), so while its good for me to get a basic idea, it's not all that great. How does everyone else figure this one out?

Max

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GemZombie
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Re: Counting BPM

#2 Post by GemZombie » Sat Apr 19, 2003 9:38 am

cybermaximus wrote:How does everyone here count BPM on songs? I downloaded a program that has me hit the spacebar on every beat as I listen to it, and it pops out a number, but I discovered that it likes to speed it up (a listed 136 song popped up at 158), so while its good for me to get a basic idea, it's not all that great. How does everyone else figure this one out?

Max
I used to use a util like that, called "BPM Counter" cleverly enough. It was failry accurate, much more so than you are reporting.

I've also done it by hand, counting the number of beats per 15 seconds of a song, and then mulitplying it by 4 to get the BPM. That turned out to be very inaccurate for me :P

Now I use the built in BPM counter in the DJ util that I use called "BPM Studio". Usually such software based counters are terrible, but BPM studio is extremely accurate and adjustable to make work when it's not quite getting it. The fact that it can do this to swing era music has always impressed me... and I don't have to keep tapping a spacebar. It also saves a record of it, so that i can look the song up and it's tempo, or even do a search based on a bpm range.

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Ron
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#3 Post by Ron » Sat Apr 19, 2003 1:28 pm

I use a util I downloaded from somewhere, winBPM. Tap along for a while and it gives you a filtered average. I recommend it.

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Lawrence
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#4 Post by Lawrence » Sun Apr 20, 2003 8:21 pm

Exact same program as Ron. Taps out with the mouse button.
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cybermaximus
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#5 Post by cybermaximus » Sun Apr 20, 2003 9:07 pm

I can't seem to find a copy of it anywhere. Do you know where you downloaded it at?

Max

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JesseMiner
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#6 Post by JesseMiner » Mon Apr 21, 2003 12:10 am

For the past few years I've been using a program called Delay Time 2.0 which seems to work just fine for me. It's freeware for the PC, and you can download it from their site.

Jesse

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morte100
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DJ BPM

#7 Post by morte100 » Mon Apr 21, 2003 12:34 pm

I use DJ BPM http://www.hitsquad.com/smm/programs/DJ_BPM_Counter/

It's pretty low-tech, but it gets the job done, and I believe it to be as accurate as I am. But that's the real problem, I think. These solutions rely on the user.

I find that it works best if I scan at least 30 seconds into the song and run the counter for at least 60 seconds. Takes a bit longer, but it's more accurate.

For kicks, try measuring the BPM at the beginning of a song, during solos, and towards the end to see how much our type of music can vary without drum machines and synthesizers.

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Lawrence
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Re: DJ BPM

#8 Post by Lawrence » Mon Apr 21, 2003 12:48 pm

morte100 wrote: For kicks, try measuring the BPM at the beginning of a song, during solos, and towards the end to see how much our type of music can vary without drum machines and synthesizers.
Absolutely; an often-ignored point. When I get the chance, I sometimes indicate the range. The popular 7-minute live Basie version of "Blues for Stephanie" that everyone plays starts out at like 140 and slows down to something like 110-120.

Nonetheless, objective measures of BPM are not important for us; the more important thing is consistency within an index. If they are all off by the same measure, then no big deal.
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Platypus
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#9 Post by Platypus » Mon Apr 21, 2003 7:07 pm

The 15 second count works for me. Made a little chart with the x4 count on it (small enough to slip one into each of my CD cases, so I can more easily check BPMs anywhere and not have to remember my times tables). Instead of a watch, I use the little counter on my portable CD player.

One of our venues has a BPM counter in the booth, so I have rechecked my counts and found them accurate enough to not worry about being perfect.

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Lawrence
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#10 Post by Lawrence » Tue Apr 22, 2003 2:33 pm

Platypus wrote:One of our venues has a BPM counter in the booth, so I have rechecked my counts and found them accurate enough to not worry about being perfect.
A short word of warning: many of the automatic BPM counters, especially on DJ mixers, are designed for techo beat-mixing where the beat is overpowering. I have one on my mixer, and it is generally not accurate for jazz and blues. I completely ignore it. Same thing for many software BPM counters. A few loud guitar plucks or syncopated bass accents could throw off an automatic counter. That's why I rely only upon one that I tap out myself.

Again, perfect accuracy is not as important as consistency so that you have a reliable guide. But the automatic counters are not consistent to be reliable.
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Platypus
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#11 Post by Platypus » Tue Apr 22, 2003 5:47 pm

I don't use the automatic part of it, I tap along and it tells me how fast I tap. So, best of both worlds. Don't need to use my fingers to add things up. :-)

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Drew
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#12 Post by Drew » Tue Apr 22, 2003 11:21 pm

I have iCrunchBPM for my Palm, a dirt-simple, free little ditty I've had for a while. Same idea as WinBPM--tap and it calculates--but I really don't use it very often, and really don't like to.

My biggest pet peeve is when anyone comes up and asks me to play a tune "about 190" or whatever. I think that overall, BPMs are an overrated statistic about the music that don't tell of the virtues or drawbacks to the tunes themselves.

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GemZombie
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#13 Post by GemZombie » Wed Apr 23, 2003 7:58 am

Drew wrote:I have iCrunchBPM for my Palm, a dirt-simple, free little ditty I've had for a while. Same idea as WinBPM--tap and it calculates--but I really don't use it very often, and really don't like to.

My biggest pet peeve is when anyone comes up and asks me to play a tune "about 190" or whatever. I think that overall, BPMs are an overrated statistic about the music that don't tell of the virtues or drawbacks to the tunes themselves.
Hey at least you have dancers that understand tempos. I get the blanket statements "Can you play something slow" or "Can you play something fast?". Everyone has a different definition of fast.

I use BPMs as a DJ for ranges, or for when someone asks me. I also use it as a reference sometimes, as I forget which version of a song something might be... the BPM often tells me which version i'm looking at. And finally sometimes I use them as a reference to know if I've played a song before. I only set the BPMs for a tune after I play it for the first time, so it's a nice way of knowing that i've played it before.

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#14 Post by mark0tz » Wed Apr 23, 2003 8:58 am

I use the TempoTapper. I've found it to be pretty accurate and very quick to give the results. Helps me move through bpm's quickly if I like the song.

http://likai.net/taptap/
Mike Marcotte

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Zot
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Mac Users Unite

#15 Post by Zot » Tue Apr 29, 2003 8:37 pm

Macintosh users might be glad to learn that there's a utility for MacOS that does an excellent job:

http://diwww.epfl.ch/~zenger/macbpm/

One particular feature I like is the stabilisation measure, which tackles some of the problems mentioned above in this thread by giving you and indication of whether the beat is pretty steady in the music, or in your forefinger at least!!

I've written my own little util for MacOSX, but until I get time to add more features it's not amazingly useful. If anyone really really wants it, they can email me.

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