How to Determine a Song's Tempo

You can calculate the tempo of a song by using a simple formula. Tempo is the measure of beats per minute. Musicians regularly have to calculate tempo to determine if a piece is performed at the proper pace. It also is sometimes necessary to take a prerecorded song and determine the tempo from the audio. Calculating the tempo is a fairly simple task that requires the user to be able to accurately identify the beat of the composition. With a little bit of math and some basic knowledge of metrical pulse, it is possible for anyone to determine the tempo of a song.

Manual Method

Step 1: Start the song and begin tapping your foot to the beat. The beat is not the same thing as a rhythm. The rhythmical beat, or pulse, is a steady tempo that occurs throughout the piece. When people dance, they dance to a beat and not a rhythm.

Step 2: Continue tapping the beat with your foot, and start the stopwatch. Time yourself for 20 seconds, and count the number of beats that occur within 20 seconds.

Step 3: Multiple the number of beats in 20 seconds of time by three to give you the tempo of the piece.

Software Method

Step 1: Download the Tap Tempo application, and install it on a PC, which is required to use the application.

Step 2: Launch the program by double-clicking its icon, or select it from the "Program" menu.

Step 3: Tap the beat of the song on the keyboard with the spacebar. After 10 to 20 seconds, the program displays the song's tempo.


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