Using the Tempo Track

Tempo changes are controlled by tempo events, which are stored in a special Tempo track. This track can be displayed in the Arrange window, Piano Roll Editor, Hyper Editor, and Score Editor. The Tempo track applies to the whole project. The tempo track also determines the relationship between incoming time code and the current playhead position.

Figure. Tempo track in Global Tracks.
To view the Tempo track
Do one of the following:
  • Choose View > Global Tracks (or use the corresponding key command, default assignment:  G).

  • Click the disclosure triangle to the left of the Bar ruler in any of the linear editing windows.

Note: By default, the global Marker, Signature, and Tempo tracks are visible when you use any of the methods above to open the global tracks lanes. If the Tempo track is not visible, you can configure the global track display to fit your needs. For further details, see Displaying Global Tracks.

The Tempo track displays tempo changes as nodes:  dots connected by lines. By default, these dots are followed by horizontal lines that continue to the next node, which is aligned with a project position (shown in the Bar ruler). At this point, a vertical line is connected to the node of the ensuing tempo change. This creates a series of hills and valleys that represent the project tempo.

Note: The tempo is indicated numerically (in bpm) alongside each node, if the vertical height of the Tempo track is adequate.

Creating and Deleting Events in the Tempo Track

You can create tempo change events by inserting them into the Tempo track at the desired project position.

To insert a tempo change event
Do one of the following:
  • Double-click at the desired position with the Pointer tool.

  • Click at the desired position with the Pencil tool.

    Figure. Inserting tempo change event with Pencil tool.

    Keep an eye on the help tag when using the Pencil tool, and don’t release the mouse button until the intended tempo and position are indicated. No help tag appears when double-clicking with the Pointer tool.

  • Hold Control-Option-Command and click at the desired position in the Tempo track.

    A text field opens, allowing you to type a bpm value. Press Return, and a tempo event of this value is created.

    Figure. Typing bpm value in text field.
To delete a tempo change event
Do one of the following:
  • Select it, by either clicking the node itself or the line to the right, then choose Edit > Delete (or press the Delete key).

  • Double-click the node with the Pointer tool.

  • Click the node with the Eraser tool.

Creating Tempo Curves in the Tempo Track

To create a continuous transition between two tempi, click-hold and drag the tip of the right angle line (the corner) above or below the second node.

Figure. Dragging tip of right angle line to create tempo curve.

A curve or diagonal line results (a Move Curve Node help tag is shown), which can be dragged—horizontally or vertically—to alter the curve shape. You’ll find that this is quite similar to drawing track automation curves with the mouse.

To make a tempo curve more, or less, precise
  • Choose a value from the Resolution pop-up menu in the Tempo track to define the number of tempo changes that are actually performed when using curves.

When set to 1/16, there are four tempo changes per quarter note; 1/1 only generates one tempo change per bar, which will result in a coarser transition. A different resolution can be defined for each node.

To delete a tempo curve
  • Click the handling node (at the tip of the right angle) with the Eraser tool, or double-click it with the Pointer tool.

Moving, Altering, and Copying Events in the Tempo Track

To move a tempo change event, grab the node (or the line to the right) and drag it left or right.

To make finer tempo change movements
  • Hold Shift while dragging a node left or right.

To move the selected tempo change event to the current playhead position
  • Use the Pickup Clock (Move Event to Playhead Position) key command.

To move the selected tempo change event, replacing the previous one
  • Control-click (or right-click) a node, then choose Extend Left from the shortcut menu.

    This moves the selected tempo event left to the position of the previous tempo event, which is replaced by the moved one.

Note: This menu item is dimmed for the first tempo event.

To change the value of a tempo change event
  • Drag the node (or line) vertically. A help tag displays the tempo value.

    The display range (the scale shown to the left) of the tempo track is automatically adjusted when you choose a value that exceeds the current minimum or maximum value.

Note: To prevent unintentional changes, nodes are restricted to either vertical or horizontal movement for each operation. Put another way, you can either change the value of a tempo change event or the position of a tempo change event, but not both at once.

To create a constant tempo across multiple tempo events
  • Control-click (or right-click) a Tempo track selection (containing multiple tempo events), then choose Replace By Average from the shortcut menu.

To copy a tempo change event
Do one of the following:
  • Hold Option while dragging a node.

  • Use the standard Copy and Paste procedure (via the Edit menu or the corresponding key command). The playhead determines the target position for the first pasted event.

To copy or move multiple tempo change events
  • Shift-click or drag to select (while pressing Control), and drag all nodes to the target position.

Note: Any tempo change events at the target positions are replaced by the moved or copied events.

Adjusting the Display Range in the Tempo Track

The display range for tempo events is adjusted automatically. Dragging a node beyond the current maximum or minimum scale boundaries results in an automatic adjustment of the range.

To manually define the maximum and minimum ranges of the tempo display
Do one of the following:
  • Grab the maximum and minimum values in the tempo scale and drag them vertically.

    Figure. Dragging tempo scale values in tempo display.
  • Double-click either range value and type a numerical value into the text field.

    Figure. Entering tempo scale values in tempo display.

These user-defined values are displayed in yellow. If you want to return to the automatic scaling mode, use the procedure described above, and leave the text fields empty.

Switching Between Tempo Alternatives in the Tempo Track

The Alternative pop-up menu in the Tempo track allows you to switch between different tempo maps. Put another way, you can create up to nine different tempo track versions per project, and switch between them.

The original tempo track is automatically assigned to Alternative 1.

To create an alternate tempo map
  • Choose an unused number (2 through 9), and create the tempo events.

    Figure. Alternative pop-up menu in Tempo track.

This will be a blank tempo map, that contains one tempo event at the beginning of the project.

To copy all tempo events from one tempo alternative to another
  • Hold Option, and choose the target tempo alternative from the pop-up menu.

This creates a replica tempo map, which can be adjusted slightly, allowing you to experiment with small tempo variations, while retaining a fallback map.

Relationship Between Tempo and Beat Mapping Tracks

Actions performed in the Beat Mapping track result in changes to the Tempo track. These include alterations to existing tempo change events, or the creation of new, tempo change events.

Given this behavior, you should avoid making changes in the Tempo track after using Beat Mapping functions. If you do so, the timing derived from the Beat Mapping functions will be destroyed. For more information about the Beat Mapping track, see Beat Mapping Regions.