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How To Change Tempo In Pro Tools

Pro Tools is useful software for creating and producing music. It also helps people to edit and reconfigure existing music. But not all music is the same; one thing that changes between pieces s the tempo. So, how do you change the tempo in Pro Tools? 

The easiest way to adjust tempo in Pro Tools is by going to the top left corner and clicking the tempo ruler. From here, users can adjust the tempo for the entire song, or create a new tempo for a portion of the song. The tempo can be set to a specific beat, or adjusted by hand by the creator.

While it can be overwhelming the first time that you open up Pro Tools, as long as you know what you are looking for, you will be able to become familiar with the layout quickly. Here are some of the key menus you will want to keep in mind when using Pro Tools, as well as how you can adjust tempo within the program. Read below to learn more about these methods, and their strengths and weaknesses.

How to Change the Starting Tempo in Pro Tools

The starting tempo is the tempo that is set when you first open a new project. Unless you change this tempo, your music will follow this.

Pro Tools will set the notes and bars based on this tempo. The tempo will default be set to 120 beats per minute (BPM). While this is a good starting tempo, it may not apply to the piece of music that you are currently working on. Here are the steps you can follow to change it:

  1. Be on the editing page of Pro Tools.
  2. In the top left corner of the page, you should see several bars or “rulers,” including meter, markers, and tempo.
  3. Click on the tempo ruler to change the starting tempo.
  4. Double-click on this tempo bar to open a menu to change it from the start.
  5. In this menu, you can change the tempo by either typing in the beats per minute you want or dragging your mouse until you reach your desired BPM.

You can also change the standard note that Pro Tools will use within your song. If you plan on using an irregular beat you will want to pay attention to which note the program is using. Once you have adjusted the starting tempo to your preference click save and the changes will be applied to the entire song project.

If you are more of a visual learner, check out this video for steps on how to change your tempo:

How to Create Different Tempos in Pro Tools

While it is nice to set the tempo for the project to one that works better with your creative vision, this may not be enough. Most songs will change tempo at least one time within the song.

So where does this leave us? Will you have to make a new song project whenever you want to change the tempo? Thankfully, no.

Pro Tools has options for changing the tempo of specific song sections within the project. Here are some steps you can use to change the tempo of different sections:

  1. Scroll to the portion of the music that you want to alter
  2. Click the time bar at the top of the screen
  3. Scroll back to the left and click the addition symbol on the tempo bar
  4. This will open the same menu as earlier but provide additional options
  5. Like before, you can change the BPM either by typing or dragging

You can set a location for this new tempo wherever you select through the above steps.

You can also enter the time when you would like the tempo change to start. If you want it to follow your bars, you can check the “snap-to bar” box. This moves your selection to the closest bar, so the tempo change will begin here. Leave the box unchecked if you want to insert a tempo change with more control.

How to Manually Input Tempo Changes into Pro Tools

While it can help to set a specific tempo for your project, you may not know which tempo will work best with your music. If you have an idea for the ideal tempo for your song but aren’t sure about the beats per minute (BMP), you can use Pro Tool’s manual tempo changes. So, you can play with it, even if you don’t know exactly what you want your tempo to be. 

Here are some steps you can follow for manually inputting tempo changes:

  1. Go to the window tab at the top of the screen and select Transport.
  2. Click the down arrow near the window’s right side.
  3. Check that the project is running MIDI Controls and Expanded Transport.
  4. Return to your song and click the red marker on the right side of the Tempo bar.
  5. Highlight the BPM box and tap the tempo that you would like to use on the computer by using the T key on your computer.
  6. When tapping, pretend that you are tapping the beat (the one in your head) on the table using your finger.
  7. Once you have your desired tempo you can set how you would like it to be used in the same way as the earlier two sections.

Can You Make Incremental Tempo Changes in Pro Tools?

You may also want to make incremental tempo changes to your song, such as slightly speeding up or slowing down your music. There are two ways to do this, one being easier than the other. We’ve outlined each of these options below with the quick steps you can take to adjust the tempo of your song.

Drawing Your Changes 

To edit the tempo this way, Follow these steps:

  1. Go to the tempo bar and click the arrow on the left side of the bar.
  2. Select the pencil icon and scroll over to the green space, the tempo chart, to the right.
  3. Once there, you can use the pencil to draw over the green area how you would like the tempo to change.

This is easiest because it allows you to mark where you would like the tempo to increase or decrease, but it is less precise than the second method.

Operations Window Method (Harder)

To do this method, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the event tab in the top menu.
  2. Scroll down to tempo operations and then select the linear option.
  3. This option will allow you to pick a start/stop place for the tempo change
  4. Input where you would like to start and stop and the starting and ending tempo.
  5. Click Apply, and Pro Tools will change the linear tempo between the points.

Here’s a video showing you what it looks like:

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