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André Zern

Silly Q: still struggling with my project timeline measure 1:1:0


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I'm using Calkewalk now for over a decade (or even longer), but still haven't figured out, how to set leadin measures, tempo, bar 1 of the song ...

Just a quick example: I have some stems, including a click track, tempo is dynamic (as it is most of the time with music recorded by humans). First thing to verify, the tempo is not fitting - Cakewalk need to be told which content need to be interpreted. Ok, if I now pick a track (with adequat musical content inside) and drag it onto the timelime it wont work. It simply don't figure out the bars and tempo ... Going on to the next step: determine bar 1 beat 1. In terms of focussing on including the leadin measures I get an fairly odd error message if I try to set bar 1 beat 1 at the first click of the click track. If I try this with bar 1 beat 2 it works ... how odd is that?? I can only align the tempo from bar 1 beat 2?? I also tryed to understand the error message, but I can't (see error message in attached screen shot; sorry for this is in German ... ) Translation by Google: "Invalid measure or beat. The tempo required for this position is not allowed. Please remove some tempo entries in the area of the desired position in the tempo view or enter correct values for measure and beat." This shows up even when there is just one entry in the tempo map ...

Now, I want to fix the tempo by grabbing either the whole mix (sitting as an extra track among the stems) or the click track and drag it to the time line (it shows blue, but at times also orange; does anybody has a clue what that want to tell me?)

When I now want Cakewalk to detect the tempo, I need to cut the track at a "reasonable" point (earliest possible point: bar 1 beat 2) and drag it over the time line it detects a tempo of that track but leaving beat 1 outside ... is that really a limitation I need to accept?

What have I got by now? The tempo now is displayed quite ok according to what I give Melodyne to analyze, but the correct tempo map starts at bar 1 beat 2. Why can't I define bar 1 beat 1 as the first beat of the song??

Also, this new detected "tempo map" turned out to be quite fragile in terms of messin' up the whole song's tempo map if I edit audio in the stems.

So, the resulting question to you professional sound guys now is: what is your proven workflow to set bar 1 beat 1 and how do you treat the tempo of a given song that need to be detected?? You absolutely do have the chance now to make me a happy guy if you turn on the light bulb over this issue in me  ... 🙂 Thanks!

error message.jpg

Edited by André Zern
... additional aspect ..

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M:B:T time 1:01:000 is locked to SMTPE 00:00:00:00 in Cakewalk, and cannot be changed.  If the song starts with a partial measure of "pick-up" notes, then the first downbeat will have to start on 2:01:000.  For this and other reasons, I do not find automatic tempo detection to be very useful.  I've posted versions if the following manual procedure using Set measure/Beat At Now (Shift+M) many times, and still find it give the most predictable and precise results. Easier to do than to describe:

Note that this was originally aimed at aligning the timeline to a MIDI clip, but tabbing to transients in an audio track works the same as tabbing to MIDI events, and it's not necessary to show transient markers in order for the tab function to work; just read the word 'event' as 'transient'. In some cases, you might want to tweak the Now time position if the transient marker is not accurately placed.
The main thing to understand is that Set Measure/Beat At Now is basically telling SONAR to set the previous tempo to make the specified Measure and Beat of the timeline fall on the absolute time at the current Now cursor location: the playback of audio is not affected, and MIDI event start times and durations are adjusted automatically so that they also play back with the same timing rather than following the tempo changes. You're effectively stretching/compressing the timeline to fit the existing playback timing.

1. Trim and drag the clip to align the first event wherever it should be in the timeline.
2. If that time is not 1:01:000, use Set Measure/Beat At Now (Shift+M) to "pin" that first beat so that it becomes the reference point for determining tempo.
3. Count out several measures listening to the clip (or go to the last event if the clip is short) set the Now time at the beginning of that event by tabbing to it, and use Shift+M again to set the correct measure and beat in the timeline to the absolute time of that event (i.e. "Now".)
4. Cakewalk will alter the tempo at  1:01:000 (or the first point you "pinned") to make the timeline match the clip without altering the playback timing of the clip (or any other clip in the project), and add a matching tempo value at the beat you set to serve as a reference for setting subsequent beats.
5. If the clip was recorded to a click, and/or was quantized, that may be all you need to do; if not, you can set additional beats every few measures or every measure, or even within measures or beats (note that fractional beats are entered as decimal values not ticks, so 02:480 is 2.5).
6. If the clip didn't start at 1:01:000, go to the tempo track, and change the tempo at 1:01:000 to match the first tempo SONAR inserted  (this gets trickier in a project with mixed MIDI and audio)
That's about it. For a very long clip, I recommend setting the first point at 8 measures or so to see what beat the last event should fall on. Then undo the 8-measure 'Set' , and set that last event to establish an overall average tempo, and roughly align the whole clip so that it's easy to see what beats other events should fall on in the middle of the clip, and decided how many you need to snap to tighten up the timeline match. Setting the first 8 measures is just an interim step to figure out how long the clip is without listening and counting 100+ measures or whatever it is.


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