QuickTip: Tap the Tempo

So we’re getting musical this year, right? Here’s a quick little mixing technique tip that goes along with a quote from a couple weeks ago.

When tapping to set vocal delays, don’t use the drums or a click track or specific tempo. I did that for a long time, and I’d even go get tempos from Pro Tools or Ableton or whatever was being used for click and loop playback. Here’s the problem : we’re making MUSIC and not MATH. Rhythm might seem mathematical in nature, but rhythm is really about feel.

So I like this better. Tap your vocal delay while listening to the VOCAL. It will feel much better when playing against the organic rhythm of the vocal vs. a hard-set tempo the rhythm section is chasing. Remember, music existed for hundreds of years before the invention of the metronome. Choose life and not the grid.

If you don’t have the ability to tap tempo and you’re using a chart based on the tempo of the song, don’t worry about being dead-on with your times. Sometimes setting delays a hair longer can feel better in the context of the song.

David Stagl

3 Responses to “QuickTip: Tap the Tempo

  • I’ve been tapping the tempo based on my vocalist release of their phrasing and leaving it set the whole service. Otherwise I have my delay set so if I tap the beat of the rhythm section the delay is a little bit ahead of me.

  • Stephen Blaski
    12 years ago

    Great idea Dave!

    I was wondering if you could talk about using vocal delay in worship settings. It seems that even using a small quarter-note delay seems to be distracting to some congregation members. Do you find this to be the case at your church?


  • Steve, there might be some info in a post I did on delays last year that might help. Here’s a link: http://www.goingto11.com/?p=1512