In the comments for last week’s tip on varipseed-type formant changes, reader Randy Hayes asked if it was possible to change the tempo similarly so that you could play along with something at a slower tempo, then speed it back up (while still being the correct key). This was a common technique with tape, but because pitch and speed were locked together, there would be formant changes—whether you wanted them or not—when you returned the slowed-down track to pitch.
One of the MIDI’s great features is that you can sloooooooow down the tempo, play along with the slowed-down track, then speed it up to make it seem like you have lightning-fast technique. The good news is that with audio, you can slow down Studio One’s tempo without changing pitch, which sounds great in theory. The bad news is that this isn’t always a painless solution, because Events recorded at a slower tempo will likely need to be time-stretched when you return to the original tempo, and you may also need to call up the Inspector for Events or Tracks to specify how the Events should relate to tempo. Also, if there’s a Tempo Track with tempo changes, then you have to offset all the tempo data, as well as make sure you restore it to the proper tempo when you’re done.
Fortunately, there’s an easy way to record along with a song at a slowed-down tempo, and have the correct timing for the recorded part when you restore the song to its original tempo. This complements last week’s formant-changing trick; the technique starts off similarly but ends up quite differently.
Figure 1: Use the Export Mixdown function to create a premix.
Figure 2: Access the Speedup parameter by right-clicking on the premix.
Figure 3: The recorded guitar solo, with an added “dummy” Event that starts at the beginning of the song, prior to merging them together.
Figure 4: Once the newly recorded track goes to the start of the song, change the Speedup parameter to compensate for the slowdown.
Note that any vibrato will be sped up when you restore the new part to the original tempo. This may be something you want, but if not, just remember to apply a slower vibrato than usual. Also, the timing will be tighter—a note that’s off the beat by a bit will hit closer to the beat when sped up.
Sure, some people might think this is cheating. But back when recording studios started adding EQ or reverb to vocalists, that was considered cheating too. The technique is the skill with which we use our tools, and having “Studio One technique” can be just as important—and valid—as having technique on your chosen instrument.
Just remember, all that matters about music is the emotional impact on the listener. They don’t care what you did to produce that emotional impact!