Tips on how to deal with "No BPM" Tracks when using step sequencer?
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Old 10-12-2016, 09:54 PM   #1
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Tips on how to deal with "No BPM" Tracks when using step sequencer?

I'm awful at titles so I hope someone clicks on this. So, I've got vocals recorded for a spoken word project and I'm happy with those. I didn't read to a metronome or click track or anything, I just performed the poetry as I would if I were just reading to a crowd. I've tried reading to a metronome before and didn't like the results, I feel like I'd have to write the words to work with the BPM.

So I've got these vocals and I want to add some synth stuff (mostly pads, atmospheric stuff, maybe percussive flourishes here and there). My issue is this: how do I pick a BPM for the sequencer on my A4? For the pads and such I wouldn't mind trying my hand at playing some stuff live, but I might want to use some arps, or sequence some little things here and there, some percussive/hard attack type sounds. I guess it depends on what I want to accomplish in that part of the track?

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Old 10-12-2016, 11:02 PM   #2
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Re: Tips on how to deal with "No BPM" Tracks when using step sequencer?

I am not sure anything would be jarring ... If you are reading then anything goes behind. Playing the pads live is surely a good idea, as you will probably be able to pick up moments of tension and release better than a sequencer.

For arps and sequences I think they could be treated like pads ... By which I mean the faster they go, the more tension they will bring. You could speed them up / slow them down.. But their rhythm should be perceived as removed from your spoken word.

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Old 10-12-2016, 11:05 PM   #3
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Re: Tips on how to deal with "No BPM" Tracks when using step sequencer?

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Originally Posted by Chozo Tull View Post
I am not sure anything would be jarring ... If you are reading then anything goes behind. Playing the pads live is surely a good idea, as you will probably be able to pick up moments of tension and release better than a sequencer.

For arps and sequences I think they could be treated like pads ... By which I mean the faster they go, the more tension they will bring. You could speed them up / slow them down.. But their rhythm should be perceived as removed from your spoken word.
Thanks man. Just needed a little input to see if my ideas about how to handle it were on track.

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Old 10-12-2016, 11:19 PM   #4
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Re: Tips on how to deal with "No BPM" Tracks when using step sequencer?

I'm a big fan of that sort of stuff, would love to hear it when done ... or wips :p

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Old 10-12-2016, 11:53 PM   #5
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Re: Tips on how to deal with "No BPM" Tracks when using step sequencer?

I would just pick your BPM to whatever you want and cut the vocals up per phrase / sentance and line them up with the beginning of the sequence that way. Sometimes phrases are longer than your sequence. In that case split them in half, each half the start of a new bar or whatever. It's hard to explain with accuracy by typing it out with words here but I'm sure you understand what I mean. That's how I've handled using things I've recorded before in my projects without recording to BPM. You can nudge the words around slightly too to make them fit better.

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Old 10-13-2016, 12:08 AM   #6
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Re: Tips on how to deal with "No BPM" Tracks when using step sequencer?

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I would just pick your BPM to whatever you want and cut the vocals up per phrase / sentance and line them up with the beginning of the sequence that way. Sometimes phrases are longer than your sequence. In that case split them in half, each half the start of a new bar or whatever. It's hard to explain with accuracy by typing it out with words here but I'm sure you understand what I mean. That's how I've handled using things I've recorded before in my projects without recording to BPM. You can nudge the words around slightly too to make them fit better.

Still owe you that FB mesage reply, yup.
That is what I would normally do, but I dont want to alter the phrasing of the performances at all. Sorry if that wasnt clear in the OP. The vocals are performed as I normaly read and as that is the focus I need to work around that limitation. However when I get a sampler back into my life Ill probably do some beat oriented stuff in this style.

I was thinking of adding some glitchy synth phrases and percussive moments and that is why BPM concerned me. I think Ill end up playing the pads and atmo stuff live at this point.

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at the least Ill be posting a final product. Ill try to make a note in the studio to send you some wips via PM though.

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Old 10-13-2016, 06:39 AM   #7
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Re: Tips on how to deal with "No BPM" Tracks when using step sequencer?

Here's what I think you should do..

Play the audio, and open up the tap tempo in your daw. Close your eyes and really try to feel the rythm of the speech. Start tapping and when you know you're feeling it stop.

Now, I would start composing stuff. After you've got a fair amount of stuff going, I would try recording some tempo automation. I've great success with this in ambient tunes, and I bet it could work with this. Doesn't have to be crazy. Again, just close your eyes and feel the groove and start recording.

At the the end, after I had recorder all my synth parts. I would go through the vocals and shorten or lengthen the gaps in the spoken word to fit the synths even better.

Good luck!

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Old 10-13-2016, 05:35 PM   #8
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Re: Tips on how to deal with "No BPM" Tracks when using step sequencer?

I'd say speaking comfortably ranges between 90-110 bpm for a casual pace, 120-140 if you're rushing.

I mean, I'm thinking of a track like this in terms of a monologue before a track starts.....considering how the drone is tuned along with the vocals, it probably made sense to "hold the noise" and let it go until whatever needed to be said was said. So in FL, just record into an edison and drag to the playlist after.....If you're doing like a hardstyle track or something where there's that "announcer" thing, yea, I guess you have to be more to tempo. Also, you can stretch your vocal track to fit, no?
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Old 10-13-2016, 06:34 PM   #9
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Re: Tips on how to deal with "No BPM" Tracks when using step sequencer?

I would recommend trying to sidechain your speech to the other elements. Not for the sake of clarity, but to give the other elements that rhythmic emphasis that goes hand in hand with your speech, to create an illusion of things locking together. Like, maybe sidechain vocals into a filter with an envelope follower for the pads/arps? While the notes of the arps may not be in sync, the general timbre will be, which will make it feel more coherent.

Re: Arps - it is generally better to make them at least somewhat fast. It really feels odd when there are slow arps going with something that is not in rhythm with them, but faster ones do not feel so odd.

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Old 01-02-2017, 09:04 AM   #10
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Re: Tips on how to deal with "No BPM" Tracks when using step sequencer?

Is there a syllabic beat pattern to the spoken word, even if inconsistent?
3 or 4, or X syllables stressed before phrase end?

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