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#647644 - 03/20/21 03:51 AM [Songwriting] Tempo change conundrum: When is it okay to change the tempo (increase it) for a bridge?
Registered: 04/17/18
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Loc: Albuquerque, NM
muzikluver Offline
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I wrote a song that I believe needs to have the tempo increased by 20% for the bridge but don't know if this will be acceptable to listeners. The lyrics for the bridge also require a change from a 4/4 time sig to a 3/4 time sig. Changing the tempo from 100 (which it was for the verses and chorus) to 120 works very well for a 3/4 time sig in BiaB. Because a change from 100 to 120 on the first measure of the bridge is too abrupt, I made it occur much more gradually by starting four measures earlier and first changing the tempo to 105, then 110, then 115, and finally to 120. The gradual increase in tempo is still noticeable but is much more aesthetically pleasing. Then at the end of the bridge, I do make an abrupt change back to 100 for the chorus that begins next. This also sounds fine to my ears because it complements the lyrics and enhances the musical hook that coincides with the first word in the chorus. But my wife and a friend didn't like how it sounded to their ears. When they listened to the version without the tempo change, my wife didn't like that one either because the bridge sounded too slow (like the words were dragging), which was also my impression. However, my friend liked that one better. My producer also didn't like the tempo change version (I only shared the abrupt version with him) and claimed that it would be more appropriate to introduce faster-played instruments for the bridge (like a staccato violin, for example), but he hasn't heard how the bridge sounds without a tempo change. He also hasn't heard the gradual change version. What would you do with this song? Here are links to both versions that are unlisted (only for those who have the link because I haven't released these songs to the public) on my Youtube channel:

https://youtu.be/NGKiJ5JaawE

https://youtu.be/7c0eMbuGEBE
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#647679 - 03/20/21 09:26 AM [Songwriting] Re: Tempo change conundrum: When is it okay to change the tempo (increase it) for a bridge? [Re: muzikluver]
Registered: 12/27/13
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sslechta Offline
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See the attached screenshot and music sample...... In Pro Tools on a current project I'm going from 125 BPM in the verses to 135 BPM in the choruses. I do this over the course of 2 measures at the end of the verse. The first measure of 135 BPM is the first measure of chorus. So the two measures prior are like a build up. In Pro Tools I just highlighted those two measures and said I wanted to go from 125 to 135 and it pasted in the transition tempos on it's own. Looks like about 8 tempo adjustments per measure. The transition sounds clean to me.....


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#647682 - 03/20/21 09:36 AM [Songwriting] Re: Tempo change conundrum: When is it okay to change the tempo (increase it) for a bridge? [Re: sslechta]
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muzikluver Offline
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Originally Posted By: sslechta
See the attached screenshot and music sample...... In Pro Tools on a current project I'm going from 125 BPM in the verses to 135 BPM in the choruses. I do this over the course of 2 measures at the end of the verse. The first measure of 135 BPM is the first measure of chorus. So the two measures prior are like a build up. In Pro Tools I just highlighted those two measures and said I wanted to go from 125 to 135 and it pasted in the transition tempos on it's own. Looks like about 8 tempo adjustments per measure. The transition sounds clean to me.....


That's the same pace of tempo change that I'm doing in BiaB. Mine sounds "clean," too, but will it be acceptable to the listener? Did you listen to both of my demos yet to hear the differences in them?
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#647710 - 03/20/21 12:47 PM [Songwriting] Re: Tempo change conundrum: When is it okay to change the tempo (increase it) for a bridge? [Re: muzikluver]
Registered: 12/27/13
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sslechta Offline
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I like your 1st version better. In your case the meter change works better than the meter & tempo one IMHO. I was able to hear the 5 bpm increments and thought it sounded a bit mechanical. You are also adjusting by 20 bpm, double what I was doing with the 10 bpm bump. Try increasing just a total of 10 bpm and see if that sounds more natural. Hopefully you'll get more opinions since I'm just one listener.
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#647758 - 03/21/21 03:02 AM [Songwriting] Re: Tempo change conundrum: When is it okay to change the tempo (increase it) for a bridge? [Re: sslechta]
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muzikluver Offline
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Steve, thanks for your additional comments and for listening to both of my demos. Increasing the tempo by only 10 bpm is not enough to achieve the effect I'm after that adequately complements the lyrics in the bridge---even if that change were spread over four measures (like the 20 bpm tempo increase in my Demo #3). BiaB also has difficulty syncing up the 3/4 time sig with 110 bpm. So, I created a new demo that has a smoother transition from the second chorus into the bridge. Unlike Pro Tools, BiaB only has the ability to change the tempo at the beginning of each measure. Therefore, instead of the four equal 5 bpm incremental tempo changes in Demo #3, I now have five tempo changes that range from 2 bpm to 6 bpm (2, 3, 4, 5, & 6 bpm) across five measures. This resulted in a smoother transition that is comparable to yours but without being linear. I should also mention that the 10 bpm tempo increase from 125 to 135 in your project would be equivalent to an 8 bpm tempo increase above the 100 bpm in my verses and chorus. This is another reason why yours sounds so much more smooth and "natural" in comparison to my Demo #3, besides the fact that your tempo increase is divided evenly across 16 eighth notes that span two measures.

Assuming that you find the transition from the chorus to the bridge in my Demo #4 to be smooth enough in the sense that it is aesthetically acceptable if not pleasing to your ears, do you still think the 20 bpm tempo increase will be too much for the average listener with the result that s/he will not like this song? From what I've read during my research on this issue, tempo changes in pop music are discouraged, but not in rock and classical music. That's what prompted me to submit my post to this forum.

Here's the link to my new demo for you to check out:


https://youtu.be/aEkM2jk3iiQ
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#647952 - 03/22/21 09:03 AM [Songwriting] Re: Tempo change conundrum: When is it okay to change the tempo (increase it) for a bridge? [Re: muzikluver]
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Guitarhacker Offline
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I liked the first one where the tempo remained constant. Switching time signatures was a bit strange, but not as weird as I thought it would be. I could see why you did it.... but I can also hear this in straight 4/4 as well. That would be my choice.... stay at 100 and in 4/4.

The tempo change I think was not a good idea... speeding up and them dropping back suddenly. I have used tempo change to slow the ending to a hold/stop... and that works well because it is used a lot in popular music.

When you do the tempo change the way you did, you can actually hear the steps and that makes it sound awkward. So what I do is a bit more work but it makes it sound totally natural and smooth. Where you plan to increase the tempo.... figure which measures are going to be affected. Then, lets say, using your song as an example... 4 measures for the transition. Insert an extra 4 measures. Go into the first measure and reduce the beat count from 4 back to 2 and then change the tempo by about 5 to 6 BPM in the direction you are transitioning. Then go to the next measure and repeat the process. To the listener's ear, your 8 measures of 2 beats each sounds like 4 measures of 4 beats and the transition in the tempo is by smaller increments and as a result sounds totally natural.

For what it's worth... I ten to do my transitions from regular tempo to the slow down hold across only 2 measures which are 4 measures of 2 beats each so there's 4 small tempo transitions and waaa laaa.... it works like a charm.

Once you get all that worked out to your satisfaction, this is a good tune and would certainly benefit from a real singer.


Edit. This is a song where I did exactly what I outlined above. Slow to a stop smoothly.

https://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=13017714


Edited by Guitarhacker (03/22/21 09:46 AM)
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#647968 - 03/22/21 10:28 AM [Songwriting] Re: Tempo change conundrum: When is it okay to change the tempo (increase it) for a bridge? [Re: Guitarhacker]
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MarioD Offline
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IMHO the best way to do tempo changes is with a DAW as you will get a much smoother tempo transition. If you are working with RTs your DAW must have time stretching abilities.
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#654323 - 05/03/21 09:06 PM [Songwriting] Re: Tempo change conundrum: When is it okay to change the tempo (increase it) for a bridge? [Re: MarioD]
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muzikluver Offline
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Originally Posted By: MarioD
IMHO the best way to do tempo changes is with a DAW as you will get a much smoother tempo transition. If you are working with RTs your DAW must have time stretching abilities.


I agree with your point that a DAW will create the smoothest tempo transition. Steve made the same point above and also shared a sample from one of his songs that demonstrated how a DAW will spread the tempo transition evenly across all of the notes in the measures that are affected by the tempo change. While this technique may be preferable in many if not most tempo change situations, I don't think it's the best technique for me to use on the tempo transition in my song.

Since my last comment above, I've done a lot of additional experimenting with different ways to increase the tempo from 100 bpm to 120 bpm over four or five measures but wasn't able to create a transition that I liked better than the one in the demo (#4) that I shared in my previous comment. So, I've decided to stick with that one. The transition back to 100 bpm at the end of the bridge has been more of a challenge because of its abruptness. But I was able to find a way to do this elegantly as well, thanks to the suggestion and example that Herb provided in his comment. In my reply below to Herb, I'll be sharing a link to the the latest demo (#5) I created that has a much better transition at the end of the bridge than my previous demo (#4) has.
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#654324 - 05/03/21 10:11 PM [Songwriting] Re: Tempo change conundrum: When is it okay to change the tempo (increase it) for a bridge? [Re: Guitarhacker]
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muzikluver Offline
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Originally Posted By: Guitarhacker
I liked the first one where the tempo remained constant. Switching time signatures was a bit strange, but not as weird as I thought it would be. I could see why you did it.... but I can also hear this in straight 4/4 as well. That would be my choice.... stay at 100 and in 4/4.


The main reason the change to a 3/4 time signature sounded strange is that I didn't switch from a 4/4 drum track to a 3/4 drum track. I tried to keep the bridge in 4/4 but wasn't able to because the rhythm of the lyrics in the bridge call for a 3/4 time signature.

Quote:
The tempo change I think was not a good idea... speeding up and them dropping back suddenly. I have used tempo change to slow the ending to a hold/stop... and that works well because it is used a lot in popular music.

When you do the tempo change the way you did, you can actually hear the steps and that makes it sound awkward. So what I do is a bit more work but it makes it sound totally natural and smooth. Where you plan to increase the tempo.... figure which measures are going to be affected. Then, lets say, using your song as an example... 4 measures for the transition. Insert an extra 4 measures. Go into the first measure and reduce the beat count from 4 back to 2 and then change the tempo by about 5 to 6 BPM in the direction you are transitioning. Then go to the next measure and repeat the process. To the listener's ear, your 8 measures of 2 beats each sounds like 4 measures of 4 beats and the transition in the tempo is by smaller increments and as a result sounds totally natural.


The tempo change transition in the demo (#3) I shared in my OP was definitely not very smooth because it consisted of four distinct steps of five bpm applied to four consecutive 4-beat measures. But in the next demo (#4) that I shared in a subsequent comment (which you may not have listened to), I used a different transition scheme that starts with a 2 bpm increase on the first of five measures that switches to a 3 bpm increase on the second measure and then switches to a 4 bpm increase on the third measure before ramping up to a 5 bpm and a 6 bpm increase on the last two measures respectively. Because the bpm increase on the first three measures is so small (from 2 to 3 to 4 bpm) the tempo increase isn't even noticeable until the third or fourth measure. By the time the ramp up to 6 bpm occurs in the fifth measure, the time signature also changes to 3/4. However, because I continued with the same 4/4 drum track in this demo (#4), the drums don't sync with properly with the rhythm of the bridge. So, I created a new demo (#5) in which I switch to a 3/4 drum track, which takes over to complete the transition to 120 bpm on the first measure of the bridge. I'll share the link to this demo below for you to listen to.

Quote:
For what it's worth... I ten to do my transitions from regular tempo to the slow down hold across only 2 measures which are 4 measures of 2 beats each so there's 4 small tempo transitions and waaa laaa.... it works like a charm.


After I listened to the song you shared at the end of your comment (which has a tempo decrease at the end of the song), I decided to try a similar effect using BiaB's hold and fade feature in order to create a one-measure transition instead of a two-measure transition (as you had suggested) because the tempo decrease in my song occurs before the last two choruses instead of at the end of the song (like yours does). Here's a link to the latest demo (#5) I created that contains the 3/4 drum track for the bridge and the hold/fade effect for the tempo decrease at the end of the bridge:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRYu4jVCu5o


Quote:
Once you get all that worked out to your satisfaction, this is a good tune and would certainly benefit from a real singer.


Thanks! I do have a real singer who will be singing this song for me after my producer records it in his studio sometime this summer.
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#654325 - 05/03/21 10:19 PM [Songwriting] Re: Tempo change conundrum: When is it okay to change the tempo (increase it) for a bridge? [Re: muzikluver]
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Cathie Offline
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Hi muzikluver. What I think you might like much better than a tempo change is going from straight 4/4 to swing 4/4, and I think that your bridge might move very smoothly into quarter note triplets. That would give you the faster speed with no need to change tempo or time signatures, although you might need to hold notes at the end of phrases for an extra beat (or leave off a beat, depending how the phrases fall). Top 40 music in the Swing Era years did this all the time, moving from straight quarters to swing quarters and back again, or vice versa. In the case of your bridge, it means what you've written as two 3/4 bars totalling six notes would become one 4/4 bar with six notes. Quarter note triplets have a very smooth, flowing sound to them, which I think might compliment your lyrics.

Edited to add that we cross-posted, so I went back and listened to your 5th take. The stop time before you resume the 4/4 time signature is quite effective. For me, though, the switch from 4/4 to 3/4 with the tempo change is a little jarring even done gradually. It just feels to me like it ought to be triplets in 4/4 at the same tempo. (I watched the bars on the bridge this time, and saw that you wouldn't need to add or subtract anything at the ends of phrases; you have it very neatly divided.)


Edited by Cathie (05/03/21 10:27 PM)
Edit Reason: to add more
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#654331 - 05/03/21 10:48 PM [Songwriting] Re: Tempo change conundrum: When is it okay to change the tempo (increase it) for a bridge? [Re: Cathie]
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muzikluver Offline
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Originally Posted By: Cathie
Hi muzikluver. What I think you might like much better than a tempo change is going from straight 4/4 to swing 4/4, and I think that your bridge might move very smoothly into quarter note triplets. That would give you the faster speed with no need to change tempo or time signatures, although you might need to hold notes at the end of phrases for an extra beat (or leave off a beat, depending how the phrases fall). Top 40 music in the Swing Era years did this all the time, moving from straight quarters to swing quarters and back again, or vice versa. In the case of your bridge, it means what you've written as two 3/4 bars totalling six notes would become one 4/4 bar with six notes. Quarter note triplets have a very smooth, flowing sound to them, which I think might compliment your lyrics.

Edited to add that we cross-posted, so I went back and listened to your 5th take. The stop time before you resume the 4/4 time signature is quite effective. For me, though, the switch from 4/4 to 3/4 with the tempo change is a little jarring even done gradually. It just feels to me like it ought to be triplets in 4/4 at the same tempo. (I watched the bars on the bridge this time, and saw that you wouldn't need to add or subtract anything at the ends of phrases; you have it very neatly divided.)


Hi Cathie, thanks for your suggestion, but I'm not familiar with swing 4/4. Would that be the same as a 6/4 time signature? It's hard for me to picture six quarter notes in a measure with a 4/4 time signature.
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#654428 - 05/04/21 02:28 PM [Songwriting] Re: Tempo change conundrum: When is it okay to change the tempo (increase it) for a bridge? [Re: Cathie]
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muzikluver Offline
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Originally Posted By: Cathie
Edited to add that we cross-posted, so I went back and listened to your 5th take. The stop time before you resume the 4/4 time signature is quite effective. For me, though, the switch from 4/4 to 3/4 with the tempo change is a little jarring even done gradually. It just feels to me like it ought to be triplets in 4/4 at the same tempo. (I watched the bars on the bridge this time, and saw that you wouldn't need to add or subtract anything at the ends of phrases; you have it very neatly divided.)


Cathie, any substantial tempo change will be "jarring" to some extent, even if it's done very gradually. I don't think this can be avoided, and I don't think that's the ultimate objective either. Perhaps it would be helpful to compare the tempo changes in my fifth demo to the tempo changes that were done in other songs that have already been released and became very popular. If my tempo changes are comparable to and perhaps even less "jarring" than the ones in the songs at the following links, then this should suffice as an answer to the question I asked in my OP. In fact, the reason I asked that question is that the articles I had read on this topic prior to posting my question advised against changing the tempo in a song. But, according to the first paragraph in the article at the first link below, tempo changes are one of the most overlooked tools in the songwriter's tool box. Here's the complete quote:

"For this week’s top 10, we’re going to explore one of the most overlooked tools in a songwriter’s toolbox. But don’t worry, even if you don’t write songs, I’m sure this will inform your musical listening (if nothing else, you might just hear these songs in a different way). Unfortunately, it seems as though a good tempo change in a song is becoming less and less popular in today’s music. It’s virtually non-existent in most hip-hop, dance, and pop styles, and we think that’s a shame. A common musical device of classical music, a tempo change (speed of song) is something that should be explored and celebrated for its musicality. As humans, we’re rhythmic by nature, and an increase or decrease in tempo has unique physiological effects on the listener. So let’s check out some sweet tempo changes that work wonders in the songs we love."

https://mysongalive.wordpress.com/2012/11/06/top-10-tempo-changes/

https://www.reddit.com/r/musictheory/comments/6d2ana/favorite_tempo_change_in_a_songpiece/

https://www.quora.com/What-are-some-songs-with-many-tempo-changes

https://kpsu.org/blog/12-great-rock-songs-change-dramatically-mid-song/

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3fMEe78seMp28I3rytx1Yp

https://www.theguardian.com/music/musicblog/2018/mar/15/readers-recommend-playlist-songs-with-sudden-changes

https://www.rllmukforum.com/index.php?/topic/108141-songs-that-change-tempo-half-way-through/

Then there's the following excerpt from a forum on stackexchange, which I'll link to below:

"Q: Is changing tempo during the song and back again a common device used on modern popular music? Or is there a good reason to avoid this type thing?

A: No, it is not a device commonly used in popular music. However, this technique is extremely common in other forms of music. There are no good reasons to avoid this technique, band musicians are still musicians. If a clarinetist can change tempo in an orchestra, a guitarist can change tempo in a song.

Q: Does it pose any particular problems for either the listener or the musicians who must play the song?

A: For the listener, they are a little confused at first (depending on the nature of the tempo shift) but unless you're doing it every two beats, which could be a little disorientating, the confusion quickly subsides as the listener then adds temporal shifts to their aural vocabulary about the piece. The next time you do it, it'll make sense to them.

For the musicians, really the only problem is making sure you all move at the same time, the same speed, and arrive at the same tempo. If you don't read music, learning and incorporating this technique will be more challenging, but you should all be able to do it just fine. I would start by practicing going between double time and half time and move on from there.

Q: Assuming the negatives aren't prohibitive - are there certain guidelines that should be adhered to in an effort to make this type change more effective or less disruptive (ie. try to use a multiple of 2 on your Bpm)?

A: Who cares about disruptive? Make your music interesting; if it's disruptive for them, that's their problem, not yours. As I said, I would practice double time -> half time, and then try different modulations. I would try (as a band) starting slow and then gradually playing faster, and then doing the reverse. I would purchase a metronome so you can all practice agreeing on tempi. I would also work out some sort of visual signal from whomever is the "leader" to everybody else so that you know when to start / stop speeding up or slowing down.

If you're doing really complicated temporal modulations, I'd recommend click-tracks you can place in your ears. Many 21st century musicians who play very complicated music use click-tracks to help make sure they play the rhythms correctly, stay in tempo, and not get lost."

https://music.stackexchange.com/questions/30536/is-it-acceptable-to-change-tempo-in-the-middle-of-a-song-or-is-this-a-bad-idea
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#654456 - 05/04/21 05:25 PM [Songwriting] Re: Tempo change conundrum: When is it okay to change the tempo (increase it) for a bridge? [Re: muzikluver]
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Mike Halloran Offline
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Originally Posted By: muzikluver
…I'm not familiar with swing 4/4.
Swing time 4 is sometimes notated in 12/8 but is always beat 4/4. It was the dominant feel in jazz from the late '20s through the mid '60s as well as gospel, blues and much of rock. March time (6/8) would be its godfather as it were. Jazz waltz is 3/4 subdivided into 9. Take Five is beat in 5 but subdivides into 15.

The opposite is straight time which subdivides into 8 and 16.

Rock and roll has millions of examples of both. If you look at the Styles descriptions in BIAB, you'll get a feel for it quickly. Not so much something to learn as much as the realization, "Oh, that's what that is."
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#654472 - 05/04/21 10:15 PM [Songwriting] Re: Tempo change conundrum: When is it okay to change the tempo (increase it) for a bridge? [Re: Mike Halloran]
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muzikluver Offline
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Originally Posted By: Mike Halloran
Originally Posted By: muzikluver
…I'm not familiar with swing 4/4.
Swing time 4 is sometimes notated in 12/8 but is always beat 4/4. It was the dominant feel in jazz from the late '20s through the mid '60s as well as gospel, blues and much of rock. March time (6/8) would be its godfather as it were. Jazz waltz is 3/4 subdivided into 9. Take Five is beat in 5 but subdivides into 15.

The opposite is straight time which subdivides into 8 and 16.

Rock and roll has millions of examples of both. If you look at the Styles descriptions in BIAB, you'll get a feel for it quickly. Not so much something to learn as much as the realization, "Oh, that's what that is."


Thanks for answering my question, Mike. Do you think "swing time 4" would be a better way to accomplish what I've done with the bridge in my song using a 3/4 time signature and an increased tempo of 120 bpm? I've already tried using a 6/4 time sig and even a 12/8 time sig on my bridge without increasing the tempo, but it sounded exactly the same as if I had kept the time sig at 4/4. Also, can you share an example or two of a song that changes from a straight 4/4 time sig to a swing 4/4 time sig to demonstrate the effect that Cathie described and recommended for my bridge in her comment above?
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#654483 - 05/05/21 01:34 AM [Songwriting] Re: Tempo change conundrum: When is it okay to change the tempo (increase it) for a bridge? [Re: muzikluver]
Registered: 04/07/21
Posts: 36
Loc: Wichita KS USA
Cathie Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 04/07/21
Posts: 36
Loc: Wichita KS USA
Originally Posted By: muzikluver
Hi Cathie, thanks for your suggestion, but I'm not familiar with swing 4/4. Would that be the same as a 6/4 time signature? It's hard for me to picture six quarter notes in a measure with a 4/4 time signature.


Hi muzikluver, I'm sorry I didn't get back here sooner. No, I didn't mean 6/4--personally, I find 6/4 pretty awkward so I avoid it. What I meant was to use quarter note triplets in 4/4 because it gives the effect of going faster without changing the tempo. What you're essentially doing is dividing two quarter notes into eighth note triplets (123 123) and then tying those eighth notes so that you can count them 12-31-23. You've just played quarter note triplets. It feels flowing (like a waltz), but it's highly syncopated because the rest of the band is still playing ordinary quarter notes--and since you've just played six quarter notes in the space you formerly allotted to four, you've sped your melody up by about a third.

I went looking for an example for you but it's awfully late and I'm brain-dead. Really hope this link works. You can see the melody switches back and forth from quarter note triplets to ordinary quarter and eighth notes. It's not quite what I meant when I said the sections switch back and forth, since this is bars switching back and forth, but it's the best I could find.

Begin the Beguine

I wish you all the best on your song. It's going to be lovely however you choose to arrange it.
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#654554 - 05/05/21 12:57 PM [Songwriting] Re: Tempo change conundrum: When is it okay to change the tempo (increase it) for a bridge? [Re: muzikluver]
Registered: 01/10/13
Posts: 975
Loc: The Heartland....Kansas
chulaivet1966 Offline
Expert

Registered: 01/10/13
Posts: 975
Loc: The Heartland....Kansas
Well....

Even though I'm no audience for this genre or type of song I gave it a spin.

The tempo change did not work for me at all.
It's a slow ballad sort of song and the (any) tempo change is awkward and doesn't add anything to your effort.
If I were asked I'd say leave it at the 100bpm.

But...it's your song so good luck with your recording.
Just being candid....hope that helps.

Have a great day....



Edited by chulaivet1966 (05/05/21 01:00 PM)

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