Songwriting in Pro Tools
Illustration by John Hersey

Songwriting in Pro Tools

with David Franz

Video: Choosing the right tempo for the song

The first way to quickly refine your initial So that's the rough bass idea.

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Watch the Online Video Course Songwriting in Pro Tools
1h 2m Beginner Apr 25, 2014

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Everyone writes songs in their own way. Some start with a melody or a beat, some start with a lyric. Whatever your starting point, you need to get your ideas down quickly, and then polish them into demos worth presenting to partners, producers, and record labels. Pro Tools can help. It's one of the programs professional musicians and songwriters turn to for writing, recording, and mixing songs. In this short course, David Franz takes you from an initial seed-idea to a great sounding demo song, showing you how to find the best tempo, meter, and key; add in vocals, drums, and hooks; and put together a dynamic mix using effects like EQ, compression, and reverb and delay. These 10 simple steps can guide anyone with an idea and a little musical ability through the process of capturing a song idea before the inspiration fades.

Look for more courses in our Songwriting series in 2014! We'll cover Logic, GarageBand, and other popular DAWs.

Audio + Music
Pro Tools
David Franz

Choosing the right tempo for the song

The first way to quickly refine your initial song idea is to choose the right tempo. Choosing the right tempo is paramount to creating the right groove or feel for the song. For the initial idea, I played the guitar part in slowly, as I was just learning the idea. However, ultimately, I think the track should be a little bit faster. Plus, I have a bass line already in mind that will push the tempo of the track up a bit. Here's that idea. So that's the rough bass idea. Now I'm going to use the tap tempo feature to figure out what tempo to set for the song. To do this, we need to go to the MIDI controls.

You can go over here to this menu. And first, I'm going to not show some of this stuff. We don't need the zoom controls. We don't need the transport. Here's what we need. The Midi controls. Now, this is the conductor track button. I'm going to click on that to turn it off and then click in this field where the number is for the tempo. From here, I press the t button and that's what is going to set the tempo, or press the t key down as quarter notes and set the tempo that way. So you can sing along with the track.

I think I want to actually get it a little bit slower than this, so Actually, I think I want it a little bit slower. I've probably had too much caffeine today. So, let's get it down. A little groovier, more like 100. Yeah, 100. 100, 101, somewhere around in there feels pretty good. So, I'm going to turn the conductor track back on and that sets it back to 120 because that's what our session is set at. However, I want to actually set it to 100, so, I'll click the little session start button here and I'm going to type in 100 BPM, click okay, and that sets the whole session to 100 BPM.

So let's hear what this base part sounds like at one hundred100 along with the click. So unmute the click. I'm going to mute our rough guitar, and name this track base, and then I'll record enable the track. Okay. So that's an approximation of our baseline, what it should sound like, and we've got our tempo. Let's fill this song out by adding some drums.

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