Pro Tools’ vast array of features and tools for recording and manipulating audio have made it one of the most popular digital audio workstations (DAWs) among musicians, music producers, and other audio professionals.
One convenient feature in Pro Tools is the ability to tap tempo. Tapping tempo makes it easy to tap out the beat to a song or find the tempo of an audio sample that you were given without the tempo noted.
In this guide, we’ll show you how to easily tap tempo in your next Pro Tools session.
What is “tap tempo?”
Being able to “tap tempo” simply refers to a feature that allows you to tap to a certain beat as a way of finding or setting the bpm of a project.
Tapping the tempo is one of the easiest ways to figure out the tempo of a sampled audio track. You tap a key on your keyboard or external midi device to either the beat of your track or a new beat, and Pro Tools will automatically read the beat and interpret the new tempo of the song into a numerical value.
How to tap tempo in Pro Tools
Two methods allow you to tap tempo in Pro Tools. However, both first require you to update your transport window settings to allow this shortcut.
How to update your transport window settings for tap tempo function
Step 1: Click on “Window” in the top menu bar, then select “Transport”.
Step 2: In the Transport window that appears, click the down arrow button on the right-hand side of the window and make sure to check the boxes for “Midi Controls” and “Expanded Transport”.
Do not skip this step, as it’s essential to be able to tap tempo in Pro Tools.
Ok, now that we have our transport window set up, we can start tapping tempo through one of two methods. We’ve outlined each one and its steps below.
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Method #1: Manually tap tempo to change the tempo of your project
Step 1: Locate your transport window, then find the conductor icon to the right of the window. Make sure this button is grey, not blue or green (deselected).
This will change the name of your tempo track on your project to “Manual Tempo.” You will now be able to manually set the tempo.
Step 2: Click on the numerical value next to “Tempo” in the transport window to highlight it.
Step 3: Tap the “T” key on your keyboard to the beat of the tempo you want to set.
You can tap as long as you want until you find the correct rhythm. Pro Tools will average the last eight taps to find the correct tempo.
Step 4: Press the Enter/Return key on your keyboard to lock in your new tempo.
Your new tempo is locked in when you see the tempo number deselected, and your new tempo is displayed.
Method #2: Tapping tempo with a MIDI controller
You can also tap out tempo by using a MIDI controller, such as a MIDI keyboard.
Step 1: Go to “Setup,” then select “Preferences.”
Step 2: Locate the “MIDI” tab in the Preferences window and select it.
Step 3: Under “Basics,” locate the setting that says “Use MIDI to Tap Tempo” and make sure the box next to it is checked.
Step 4: Locate your transport window, then find the conductor icon to the right of the window. Make sure this button is grey, not blue or green (deselected).
Step 5: Click on the numerical value next to “Tempo” in the transport window to highlight it.
Step 6: Tap any key or pad on your MIDI device to the beat of the tempo you want to set.
You can do this on MIDI devices like keyboards and drum pads.
Step 7: Press the Enter/Return key on your keyboard to lock in your new tempo.
Manually tapping tempo makes recording and editing sessions easier
Manually tapping tempo makes it so much easier to find the right rhythm during a live brainstorming session. Instead of fiddling with a metronome, you can simply have an artist start to play, then tap along with the beat to set the correct tempo.
You can also use this technique when transposing audio samples. For example, if you need to find the tempo for your transposition, simply tap along with the sampled audio to find the right tempo and add it to your library.
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