Editing with multiple time signatures / tempos

Hi all, I recently started work on a project where I sat down with the guitar and just tracked a bunch of riffs and accompanying (midi) drum grooves onto the timeline to arrange and expand on later, most of which have different time signatures and tempos. When I came back to it today, it occurred to me that I’m actually not sure how to go about arranging these slabs in Ardour, given how the tempo and time signature markers behave.

In an ideal world, I’d just be able to cut/copy and paste entire vertical slices of the timeline, inclusive of tempo and meter - literally lift a bunch of bars and move them somewhere else, but obviously that’s not really a thing in Ardour. I’ve also tried to use the “insert time” function to extend a given tempo/meter section (to record another variation of a part for example), but it seems to ignore the existing tempo and meter markers even with the option to move them selected, resulting in all my downstream regions’ start and end points getting messed up.

Is anyone else doing this sort of work, and if so what’s your workflow for it? Or is Ardour simply the wrong tool for the job here?

Hi Raynor!

A tremendous amount of work has been undertaken in the last 2-3 years to accommodate your desire.

This basic idea (cutting a length of time on the timeline and taking the tempo-changes with it) requires a lot of infrastructure that didn’t exist a few years ago, but it does now.

In the Ardour code, we call this technology “NuTempo” and it is still in fast development. NuTempo has many facets, but one benefit is that you can add a BBT marker which defines a point like “this is the downbeat of measure 7 which is at 110.5 bpm” and you can insert that (along with your track paste), and prior insertions or changes to the tempo map won’t propagate past that point … this being a critical feature that is quite hard to get right. I’m not aware of any other DAW that does this exactly like we can.

The end result of all this should be:
a) You can cut and copy and insert a time-range which includes all your tracks
b) … probably with some helpful gui features, usually called “4-point editing”
c) …and the inserted range should sound “exactly” like it did from the source, including its tempo changes and automations
d) …and any music-time events (i.e. quantized events) should not be turned into ‘linear’ sample- or second- based time, but instead remain musically defined.
e) …and of course other markers and metadata (like Cue markers and Location markers) should come along for the ride.

It’s still early days, but the first step is to make something possible and then we can follow-up with the implementation details.

-Ben

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