Tap tempo while recording possible?

This seems like it should be possible. When recording, I'd like to be able to play in my parts expressively at times. The scenario I have in my head is to hit record and play in my part with one hand (I'm thinking of legato lines here). Simultaneously I would be tapping a button or key on my controller to adjust the tempo in real time. This seems like something that should be totally possible, but this had never occurred to me before.

The thing is that, for me, creating an expressive line is often discovered in the moment, and isn't something I would necessarily think if I'm just notating. (Of course, notating is another avenue that I'm trying to force myself to do, and is conducive to new discoveries in its own way.) So just playing something directly into the DAW is nice sometimes - but taking the step to record it in to a click makes it difficult to keep that creative flow going, even if later I can play in the tempo changes. Being able to play in a line AND the tempo at the same time keeps things real while maintaining the necessary alignment of bars and beats intact. Is this possible in any DAW (I have Bitwig and Studio One 4)? How do you guys deal with this kind of issue? Thanks!



Senior Member
Yes!!!! I would love to see this kind of intelligent recording mode in DAWs - like a "real-time step recording" or a "pseudo real-time recording" mode. The idea would be that it warps the midi performance so that the beats you recorded along with are regularized, but still having it infer when you performed things like n-tuples, and somehow knowing when the tempo variations should actually be represented in the tempo track like intended rubato, or when those variations should be removed. Oh I wish that existed :)

I'm a cubase user myself, so I don't know about bitwig or studio one, but in cubase at least, it can be approximated with a combination of features:
- ability to switch a track between "linear time" mode and "follow the tempo track" modes
- ability to create tempo automation that regularizes a specific midi note or signal. i.e. tapping the beat somewhere
- ability to do time warping that can align the grid based on the tempo track.
- cubase's logical editor that allows crude basic programming in the form of "when X matches criteria, do Y"

I had figured out the details a few years ago but I don't remember exactly now. It was something like:
(1) create a tempo map based on the beat (which would be selected notes before I ran this process)
(2) change the track to "linear time" so that it doesn't get warped with the grid on step 3
(3) warp the grid based on the changes in tempo
(4) change the track back to "tempo time" so that any other tempo automation that you add afterwards will work normally on it.
(1-4) and then creating a macro that combined all those steps into one action.

But I gave up because the workflow was still not good enough - outside of the macro, it still required fixing the MIDI and tempo track, both before and after the process. So it didn't matter that the process got me 80% of the way there - fixing that last 20% was still too time consuming. And on top of that, the process also flattened the entire tempo track, so none of the intentional rubato or tempo variation would stay - it would need to be reprogrammed again after doing the midi recording, and that defeated the whole purpose of doing this. So yeah I hope some DAWs are willing to tackle this kind of intelligent midi recording feature :)
Logic has the ability to analyze and map tempo based on whats recorded as well. But its still kinda touchy and I’ve yet to make it worth while time-wise.

If I’m recording on the fly, hoping to keep the take and layer other instruments on top, I just do it all by feel and not worry about tempo. Or, if I absolutely need exact tempo to be involved, I’ll figure it out after the fact and re-record. A little ‘magic’ is lost, but *shrug* whatevs