How to calculate the tempo of a song


The first thing you need to know is how the tempo is measured. Tempo is defined by the beats per minute. So if the song has 120 beats per minute then the tempo of that song is 120 BPM. It’s easy to measure if the track style is House, Trance, Techno, Disco or something similar. If the song has a bit more complicated rhythm then it’s more difficult to measure or calculate the tempo. But there are many ways to do so.

Using an audio editor software

The easiest way to measure tempo is to use a digital audio editing software. Such as Audition, Audacity, Wavelab, Goldwave, Ocenaudio, Hya-Wave, WavePad, TwistedWave, Wavosaur, Soundation, Acoustica Basic, Nero Wave Editor, WaveShop etc.

Just open the audio file in an audio editor software and zoom in until you can select the length of four beats in a row. If it’s not the track where you can easily select those four kick drum hits just select the start and end of the loop. In music, a loop is a repeating section of sound material. For example, in drum and bass music it’s the section between the start and the end of the looping/repeating drum rhythm.

After you have selected the start and end points of the loop check the length of the selection in seconds. Usually, it’s between 1.5 and 3. Something like 1.846. Now you need to do some math. Take 240 and divide it with the loop length in seconds. In our example 240 divided by 1.846 is 130,01. It means that the tempo of the track is 130 beats per minute (BPM).

Using a regular watch or clock on the wall

It’s not the most accurate way but it at least gives you some information about the tempo. Listen to the song for 15 seconds. During that time you need to count all the beats so you know how many beats there are within a period of 15 seconds. Then you need to multiply those beats by four. For example, if you counted 30 beats per 15 seconds then the tempo of the song is 30 multiplied by 4 which is 120 beats per minute (BPM).

If you want to be more precise then count the beats in 30 seconds and multiply those by 2. And if you want to be even more accurate then just count all the beats in a one minute period.  

Using a timer

If you have a timer you could just measure the time between beats. But you need to be very accurate to do so. After you measure the time between the beats in milliseconds then divide 60,000 by that number. For example, if the time between the beats is 300ms then the tempo of the song is 60,000 divided by 400 ms which is 150 beats per minute (BPM).

Last update: 2018-09-13 (Y,M,D)

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