How to calculate the Beats Per Minute (BPM) of a Song"
- Listen to the song on your headphones and pay close attention to the drum beat. Try to isolate it from the rest of the instruments and the vocal track. If you are new to this, try first with the instrumental version of the song if it's available, as it'll make things easier.
- Notice that most of the drum beats in modern music (hip hop, house, funk, electronica) come in a 4 by 4 pattern. That is, each loop has four steps marked by two bass drum hits and two high hat hits: boom clat, boom clat and so on... (with slight changes and variations, they all follow the same basic formula). So you can count each hit like: one, two, three, four, one, two, three and so on...
- Grab a chronometer in one hand and press play on the record player with the other. Start both at the same time and start counting, but instead of starting all over again after four, keep on counting all the hits of the drum beat: one, two, three, four, five, six... You know how you nod with your head when you follow the rhythm of a song? Each time you nod, count as one.
- Stop counting when the chronometer reaches 15 seconds. Now you know that in those 15 seconds there were, let's say, 24 drum hits, which basically means that if you multiply that by four, you'll know how many beats are in a minute (15 seconds x 4 = 60 seconds = 1 minute). So if you counted up to 24, that means the song's BPM is 96.
- If the song goes 'boom - chee - boom - chee", count the cymbals instead of the drums. Most people find that to be easier to pick out.
- When mixing jungle, idm, break, etc, count the downbeat
for 15 seconds and multiply by 16 (instead of 4). This is
because, by definition, the beats in-between get a little
- You should do this two or three times on each song, because there might be small discrepancies in the results. Sometimes you'll get 96, sometimes 92, sometimes 100. Make sure to double check every time.
- Most hip hop songs' BPMs are in between 88 and 112. House songs go from 112 to 136.
- There are some machines that can calculate the BPM mechanically and are a lot more exact. Also, there are mixers that come equipped with this device.
- A great help for starting DJs is to write down the BPMs of the songs on the record sleeves and then sort them by speed from the slowest to the fastest ones. That way, you know in what order to play them in your DJ set.
- Keep in mind blending is not the only way to mix two songs; you can also cut from one onto the next and that way you don't necessarily have to match the BPMs.
- Don't try to mix songs that are more than 5 BPMs apart, and always go from a lower BPM to a higher BPM (unless you're starting a new set).
- If you mix music that has been recorded before the 80s, you will find that the BPMs are not constant during the entire song. They go slightly up and down as the drums are played live in the studio.
- If you play a musical instrument, you probably already own a metronome. It's very common for metronomes to have a button that calculates BPM by the speed at which you repeatedly tap the button. Tap along with the song, and within the 1-2 BPM that comes with human error, you can have the BPM in seconds.
- Chronometer is just a technical word for a clock.
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