Flexible tempo automation pluging

Hi there

I want to share an idea about a plugin that in my opinion could be very useful. I don’t know if there is such a thing or even if a DAW includes such a tool.

I better describe it with an example. I like to play with a “flexible” tempo. I mean, I like to accelerate and brake. It seems really expressive to me, especially when you adapt to a video sequence. Suppose that I imporvise an initial sketch in real time to make it more natural, if later I want to add more instruments it is useful and convenient to quantize. This means spending a lot of time in quantizing with more or less rigidity, and later, adding an automation of the tempo to brake or accelerate where I consider. And it’s easy to even destroy the initial fluency.

It would be great if a plugin could generate an automation of the tempo based on how I have played, quantize my midi notes with the rigidity that I indicate, and thus obtain a quantized track but at the same time with smooth tempo changes that do not alter the actual interpretation.

Maybe, that plugin could focus on the low notes from a certain octave, which is where I would mark the harmony in that sketch, and it usually follows a rhythm according to the beats and the tempo.

This plugin would save a lot of time on non-compositing tasks. It could make smooth as well as abrupt changes in tempo, even detect time signature changes. It would be a spectacular tool for workflow especially in soundtracks.

I don’t know if there will be such a thing. Or maybe a combination of several plugins could work.

What do you think?


Neat idea Vicente! I guess you could say that plugin would be real players! They’d just follow your tempo markings in the score. As far as DAW plugins, I’m not really a tech guy, but I’d think you’d still need a starting point for it, like the actual time signature with a few notes already input as a reference. Otherwise it might not know if you’re playing eighth notes at a fast tempo, or sixteenths at a mid tempo, et cetera.

Another reason I like using scoring software over using my DAW is that I just put in traditional tempo markings ( allegro con brio, maestoso, piu meno mosso, etc.) and the AI playback automatically decides at about what tempo to play and I don’t have to edit any other parameters or set up automation curves. If I don’t like the tempo the AI decides on, I can adjust it to my taste and the AI will adjust and play it at that tempo. It would be great to get something like that in a DAW format, if there isn’t already.


Interesting. Then, If I play my inicial sketch in a scoring software, could I export midi notes and AI assisted tempo curves to my DAW?

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There seem to be beat detection features and whatnot in some DAWs, but I suspect that’s not going to help much with something like piano improvisations without an obvious, steady rhythm.

The “traditional” way of doing it in DAWs I suppose is to just record to metronome, and then edit the tempo map as a sort of “edit time” conductor, but that obviously makes it really hard to create the intended expression, and it can also be difficult to play with the intended expression while trying to follow a metronome that is sometimes far from the intended tempo. And of course, this approach is (almost) entirely useless if you’re recording vocals or real instruments!

Cubase (and some other DAWs, I would believe) has a mode where you can grab specific bars or beat on the timeline, and drag them to line up with notes (or other events, or arbitrary points in audio tracks, for that matter), instead of tweaking the tempo map directly. What this does is essentially line up the events with the grid, while adjusting the tempo map so that the actual timing of the events remain unaffected. Then you can of course return to normal tempo map mode to adjust the tempo map, which then moves events around, though this is of course of limited use when it comes to audio.


This grid manipulation could be also a good answer. In a moderated changing tempo. :+1:

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Yes, you can do that. I’ve done it before. I mostly use Steinberg’s Dorico Pro for scoring and it has both an “export audio” and “export MIDI” function and then I can simply click and drag the audio or MIDI files directly into Studio One (the DAW I use) and it automatically renders the tempo and dynamic markings into automation curves in the DAW.

Presonus, the makers of Studio One, also make a cheaper scoring software, Notion, that directly integrates with Studio One as well so you can export the score as MIDI in to Studio One. As side note, you can then also change the instrument playback to your preferred sample libraries this way as well.

The only problem I’ve encountered doing this is that you need to write the score with a short rest at the beginning, otherwise when it renders to MIDI, it almost cuts off the first note, making a very abrupt intro.

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This is already a built in function in Cubase Pro https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Fcy9RXpESk