How to set up timeline for existing song

Creating a tempo map

Here’s how to set up n-Track’s timeline grid for an existing song that was recorded without a steady click track (or with a click track that doesn’t seem steady). In effect, you’re creating a MIDI tempo map.

This text was written for n-Track V3; some things may be slightly different with V4. V4 also has a tempo map tool, which I haven’t used yet.

Setting up a tempo map is tedious and time consuming, but in an hour or so (once you get the hang of it) you can do a tune where there’s a LOT of variation. Then you can MIDI drum to your heart’s content, use the grid, etc.

Before you start: Set the grid to “Measure”. Set the grid view to “always on”. Turn the grid off.

These next steps are just to set the BPM to start with. If you
have a tool that calculates the average BPM (i.e., as mentioned above), just use that instead – it’s probably easier and no better or worse.

1) Find the first beat in the first full measure.

2) Drag the left handle of the wave file right up to the very beginning of that first beat. The more you zoom in the more accurate everything will be, but don’t be too silly about it.

3) Drag the track full left, so the first beat is right at the very start of the window.

4) Find the first beat of the seond measure.

5) Enter numbers in the BPM box until the gray line lines up with the very start of the second measure. That’s the BPM for this measure, and what we’ll use as the starting point.

Now turn the grid on, slide the track over at least two measures, maybe three (so you have space for the pickup (if any) and to put in a count-in click, for recording more instruments). Drag that wave file’s start handle back to the left, enough so you can hear any pickup before the first beat.

If you used a BPM-finder, just set the initial BPM to that value,
and drag the track so that a grid line lands just before the start of the first beat of the first measure.

At the start of the first measure, right click on the timeline itself, just to the right of a measure marker, and choose “add BPM change”. Edit the “time” field so that it beat 1, zero ticks (e.g., 3:1:0 if we’re at the third measure in the timeline). This sort of “anchors” that spot in place.

Now repeat these steps, proceeding from left to right, through the whole song.

1) Scan to the right. Do the measure markers seem to line up? If so, keep going until you get to one that doesn’t line up well. Set a BPM change at the last measure that IS lined up well (as described above). Don’t change the BPM value, just create the BPM change thingy.

2) Click on the timeline and set the time cursor to the RIGHT of the marker you just made.

3) While looking at the spot where the grid doesn’t line up, adjust the BPM in the little BPM window above the timeline until it does line up. (Make the BPM smaller to shift the gridline right, larger to shift it left.)

4) Repeat steps 1 through 3 until you reach the end of the song, or you go crazy, or until your honey shouts "Don’t you ever do anything but sit there at that stupid computer?!!"

Um … Much easier to do a click track first!

Yep, more easy to do a click track first. I investigate time ago about that in the midi field. I wanted to play my midi keyboard without care about a click track (that kills “inspiration” in some cases) and that the output was able to be read in a staff. Well, the only answer i found was motu freestyle, that has an “intelligent” assistant that your tempo, it “follows” you. I dont remember the explanations very well, but if it interest to you, i remember that exist a demo version of that proggie, you need to google it.

I found here the link to the technology i mentioned, they call it Tempo Sense

KICK A$$$$!!!

Thanks man… I finally solved this issue!!! After 3 yrs of not using the grid I finally found the secret. I followed your guide. My problem was I trying to snap the bars to each snare sound. I had the Bpm at first set as high as 500bpm!!! But I found out I had to do that 4 beat measure thing.

Im using the sample songs from my audiophile 24/96 right now (5am here trying to crack the code). And Im running the loops right now from snippets from the cd perfectly in beat.:cool:


I hope in future versions of N-track that their would be an auto-bpm finder.

Quote (marce @ Oct. 03 2005,20:19)
I found here the link to the technology i mentioned, they call it Tempo Sense

I looked at the site - Is the Tempo Sense just for midi?

Right, Marce – I think n-Track is unable to fit a grid to a MIDI track recorded without click.

You might be able to get it to realign the track if it was recorded to a click but with the tempo wrong, using “change song speed” but I’ve never tried that. I’d love a mode in n-Track where we could “lock MIDI events to actual time”, and change the tempo map and have it NOT affect the actual timing of any MIDI events, the same way I show above for wave files.

gbh2002, glad it worked out for you. :)

Quote (bax3 @ Oct. 04 2005,10:21)
Quote (marce @ Oct. 03 2005,20:19)
I found here the link to the technology i mentioned, they call it Tempo Sense

I looked at the site - Is the Tempo Sense just for midi?

As far i remember, is only for midi, and is the only proggie that do that job, also, but i only try a demo of it a lot of time ago, you can investigate a little more. Maybe the trick can be some kind of “wav-midi” or trigger thing to use it. But it become more complicated.

The real discussion can be about if your are losing something following a click track, and if it is true in any kind of music.

Hey Jeff, i dont want to hijack your post, only that it become related. Sorry.