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 Post subject: Re: BPM
PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2020 2:10 am 
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pancelticpiper wrote:
I listened to one of those dancing clips, reels at 120, fair enough.

Which ones??? I didn't see any. The ones linked above are much slower than that.

pancelticpiper wrote:
I just went on YouTube and found numerous videos from concerts and sessions with reels hovering between 130 and 140.

Could you give a link or two? I don't remember ever seeing anything at that sort of speed. Even The Bothy Band, who always strike me as playing at breakneck speed, are only playing at just over 120.

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 Post subject: Re: BPM
PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2020 12:48 pm 
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The clip of Maid of Mt Cisco that Mr G linked takes 40 seconds for once through the tune, played AABCC, 8 bar parts. So one second per 4/4 bar. 120/240 depending on what you count.


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 Post subject: Re: BPM
PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2020 1:37 pm 
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david_h wrote:
The clip of Maid of Mt Cisco that Mr G linked takes 40 seconds for once through the tune, played AABCC, 8 bar parts. So one second per 4/4 bar. 120/240 depending on what you count.

Well, that's one, very approximate, way to measure it. If you play either an electronic or mechanical metronome along with it, you'll find that it's 107 bpm, and nowhere near 120.

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 Post subject: Re: BPM
PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2020 1:37 pm 
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Is there a lower end of acceptable tempo as well? Such as might be used for a slow session, or among less-experienced players, without sounding draggy and awful? (Our music group at church will play Irish tunes on occasion, but the "default" tempo tends to be noticeably slower than recordings. Part of this is, of course, due to skill and experience and merely the time we have to perfect a piece. Often this sort of tempo seems acceptable and normal to American ears, but I know it wouldn't be to anyone experienced in trad.)

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 Post subject: Re: BPM
PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2020 2:38 pm 
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Draggy and awful is probably not a product of speed. If you have lift, pay attention to your rhythm, phrasing and the internal rhythm of a tune you don't need an awful lot of speed. With apologies for using this particular example and an resurrecting old clip but this version of the Dairy Maid may not have a lot of speed but the concertina player had the rhythm (and it's hard to believe next week it will be twelve years since she left us).

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 Post subject: Re: BPM
PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2020 3:15 pm 
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benhall.1 wrote:
david_h wrote:
The clip of Maid of Mt Cisco that Mr G linked takes 40 seconds for once through the tune, played AABCC, 8 bar parts. So one second per 4/4 bar. 120/240 depending on what you count.

Well, that's one, very approximate, way to measure it. If you play either an electronic or mechanical metronome along with it, you'll find that it's 107 bpm, and nowhere near 120.

How do you mean 'very approximate'? 80 beats in 40 seconds (maybe a couple of hundred milliseconds less than 40) is 120 BPM. At 107 BPM it wouldn't be into the repeat of the third part by 40 seconds.

Could one of us have a computer glitch playing the clip at the wrong speed?


Last edited by david_h on Sat May 09, 2020 4:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: BPM
PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2020 3:24 pm 
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What Mr Gumby says about slower not equally draggy is so true!

Years ago at a fiddle workshop Liz Carroll played a reel at various speeds, to demonstrate how a reel can have lift and swing regardless of the speed. It was amazing. Slow or fast, it made you want to dance.

Anyhow about not slow, this (according to my metronome) is a hair under 132 (132 being the closest tempo my metronome has)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJv9zwt ... rt_radio=1

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 Post subject: Re: BPM
PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2020 5:20 pm 
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benhall.1 wrote:
Well, that's one, very approximate, way to measure it.

It's actually exactly how I do it when I want a more accurate result than trying to match it with a metronome. I count so many beats, remembering the last beat I count continues to the start of the next beat, for c.30 secs to a minute (whatever length ties in nicely with the bar structure), then work it out.

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If you play either an electronic or mechanical metronome along with it, you'll find that it's 107 bpm, and nowhere near 120.

Timing the first 64 beats carefully several times (not difficult because there's a couple of taps to get the start dead on), I make them an average of about 118.5 bpm. Haven't checked the whole clip the same way, but it's picking up speed as it goes and ends somewhere on the faster side of 120.

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 Post subject: Re: BPM
PostPosted: Sun May 10, 2020 2:23 am 
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I'll have to just accept that I'm doing something wrong somewhere ...

Out of interest, Peter (Duggan), what BPM did you make the Bothy Band clip that I linked to above?

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 Post subject: Re: BPM
PostPosted: Sun May 10, 2020 2:56 am 
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I hadn't measured that one, Ben, but I have now...

By the same method as the other one, I timed 29.94, 29.97, 29.95 and 29.92 secs for four goes at the first 64 beats of the opening fiddle tune. Call that 29.9 secs and you've got 128.4 bpm, 30.0 secs and it's exactly 128 bpm.

When I do this, I use an online digital stopwatch and tap foot, left hand or both so I'm clicking the start and stop by ear and not where I want them to be. (Sometimes I count aloud too to keep the place.) I've been doing it for years to get tempi for score writing and school studio work.

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 Post subject: Re: BPM
PostPosted: Sun May 10, 2020 3:10 am 
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OK. Thanks, Peter. My metronome method obviously doesn't work then. Either that or my mechanical metronome, and the online one with which it agrees, are both coming up with results that are too slow. Mind, I also find it strange that the Bothy Band one and the step dancer one are so close in tempo - 120 vs 128 is not all that much. Listening to it, and tapping out the beat, there seems to me to be a huge difference between the two tempi.

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 Post subject: Re: BPM
PostPosted: Sun May 10, 2020 3:24 am 
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I'd say 120 vs. 128 is a huge difference. Even a couple of bpm feels different, and 8 bpm (or 6.7% here) is significant.

I think the main trouble with using a metronome to measure an existing performance is that you have to get quite lucky to match more than a few beats in a row as any discrepancy compounds. That's why I do it by timing a longer span.

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 Post subject: Re: BPM
PostPosted: Sun May 10, 2020 4:15 am 
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The intro is slightly slower, maybe 113. I'd had assumed it was a perceptual thing but I just timed it to check.

I recorded the audio into Audacity and took the time from that. I sometimes do it Peter's way but for dance music I find following the parts almost automatic and so I only have to remember to look at the clock again. The unrepeated second part of that tune nearly threw me.

How many country cottages had a long-case clock? Most have a 60 BPM tick and playing slightly out of time with it might be distracting. Ours is currently off level (a problem also with mechanical metronomes) and ticks with a 'limp' so I have to stop it when playing.


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 Post subject: Re: BPM
PostPosted: Sun May 10, 2020 5:15 am 
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david_h wrote:
I recorded the audio into Audacity and took the time from that.

Yep, recording to a wave editor or DAW obviously works too. But it's more effort and you'd still have to highlight or top and tail the wave form to the correct length to measure it properly.

One thing I find quite interesting in working with grids in DAWs is seeing what's recorded with or without click track, either because it predates the widespread use of click tracks or it's not that type of music (e.g. live solo/group performance or pretty well anything classical). So you can measure the bpm of a modern click-tracked digital recording and work with it on a DAW grid set to same bpm, whereas you'd have to get very lucky there with older analogue and/or non-click-tracked recordings. For instance, I measured Ben E. King's Stand By Me as basically 120 bpm years ago, but it's not quite consistent enough to use with a grid.

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 Post subject: Re: BPM
PostPosted: Sun May 10, 2020 5:38 am 
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Yes one of the most significant artifacts of the digital era is the demand for gridding of tempos. Obviously consistency in time was always a thing, but there has always been a relationship to technology--what did you practice against before their were metronomes?

It's easy to argue that the appearance of cheap clocks (and metronomes) raised the interest in and demand for metrically consistent music. The metronome or clock gave you a steady beat: you practiced with it and steadiness became more of a thing generally as a result.

Now you need the gridded tempo because so much music is assembled asynchronously, parts added later or redone or files sent digitally for someone to add their part, so machine-like precision becomes the norm or the default rather than the exception.

I actually have come to love lack of consistency. Lots of Irish recordings speed up--not just the obvious start slow and then hit the tempo, but lots of sets by famous people have the last tune going much faster than the first. This is great: it's not a fault. People playing music live feel it live and it goes where it goes.


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