Logic Pro X – How to detect the BPM of a sample

BPM stands for beats per minute. It’s the way we measure tempo – that is, the speed of a piece of music. The BPM of a track or sample is a count of how many beats occur in 60 seconds. So, a track with a BPM of 120 has 120 beats in one minute of music – two beats per second. The slower a sample or piece of music is the lower its BPM, and vice versa.

Why would I need to know the BPM of a sample?

When we work with samples, we usually want them to fit in well with the rest of the piece. Most of the time, that involves knowing the BPM of both the sample and the piece of music that we are adding it to. It is possible to work with samples by ear, matching beats without finding the BPM values. It’s challenging to match beats accurately though, and the results are likely to sound a bit sloppy.

The video

Without further ado, here is the video. But you can read below for a text version of the same information.

Working out BPM by ear

Understanding the BPM of the tracks and samples we work with is crucial in music creation. There are a few ways we can work out BPM. To do it by ear, it helps to know the time signature – the numbers at the beginning of a musical score that tells us how many beats there are in a bar – then we can count the number of bars in a minute and multiply that number by the number of beats per bar.

Working out BPM like this might sound simple, but counting bars and beats by ear can get quite tricky and time-consuming, especially if we have to work out the time signature as well. These are good skills to work on as a musician or composer, but we can also use technology to help us out.

Detecting the BPM of a sample in Logic Pro X

By far the easiest way to find the BPM of a track or sample is to use a digital audio workstation (DAW). Every DAW has this function, and finding BPM is a simple procedure in each of them. Today we’re looking at how to find the BPM of a sample in Logic Pro X – Apple’s flagship DAW.

1. Load the sample

First, drag and drop your sample into the Logic Pro X workspace. You’ll see it represented onscreen as a waveform. Give it a listen to make sure you’ve loaded the right sample and it sounds as it should.

2. Apply region tempo to project tempo

The next step is to right-click on your sample and choose “apply region tempo to project tempo.” This function detects the transients in the sample and fits them to the beat to find the BPM of the sample. Here, you can see that the BPM of our sample is 106.

What are transients?

They’re the bursts of energy at the beginning of individual sounds. Every sound begins with a transient. Sometimes they are harsh like in our sample in the video, and sometimes they are softer, like with a piece of music that begins very gently. Our brains predict how the rest of the sound will progress based on the transient.

Wrapping up

So, there you have it! Just like with other DAWs, it’s easy to determine the BPM of a sample with Logic Pro X. And once you begin comparing the BPM of different samples and pieces of music, you’ll quickly start to develop an ear for it. This will make it much easier to work out BPM by ear, should you ever need to.

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