Tempo is the speed or pace of a given music piece. For bedroom producers, different tempos can really alter the mood of a track. And for a DJ, knowing the BPM makes beatmatching much easier.

In modern day music, a beats per minute (BPM) system denotes the tempo. And in our club-orientated context – based on a four to the floor time signature – conventionally a quarter note (crotchet) is specified as the beat. Here are some corresponding, relative BPM ranges:

  • Trap: 65-85 (or sequenced at 130-170)
  • Hip hop: 85-100, prominent 96
  • House: 120–128, prominent 126
  • Trance: 125-150, prominent 130
  • Dubstep: 138-142, prominent 140
  • Drum and bass: 150–180, prominent 160
  • Speedcore: >180, prominent 250

These values should not be taken too seriously though.

When mixing music, you can use the underlying tempo; e.g. a dubstep track at 140 BPM mixes well with a trap track at 70 BPM, due to the same underlying tempo. Recall that the standard dubstep rhythm patterns anyway are syncopated at this half-time tempo – the snare usually hits every third beat in a bar.

Furthermore, regarding dubstep, a wobbling LFO rate synced at 1/32 notes, is double the speed at 140 BPM compared to a tempo marking of 70 BPM. In theory, this means that you could program at 70 BPM, but then your LFOs may not allow you to reach 1/64 wobbles.

When I compose music, I usually don’t shift tempo, but I do accentuate the underlying tempo on parts of the track.

P. S. If you’re into Italian tempo markings and other musical terms, go to college or read Wikipedia.

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