ASK THE DJ: How Do I Count Beats Per Minutes (BPM)?

Dear DJ,

I am learning to DJ and I am trying to match tempos when I go from song to song. What is the best way to count BPMs so I can get in the ballpark?

Signed,

Beatcounter

Dear Beatcounter,

BPM is an abbreviation for Beats Per Minute. When going from record to record, your goal is to match the tempo (or speed) of the tracks so you can line up a smooth beat mix.

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The easiest way to get Beats Per Minute is to just count it yourself. Count the beat for 30 seconds – and multiply by 2 – and you’ve got a great estimate of how many beats per minute.

Another option is to download a DJ program that counts BPM for you. Programs like Virtual DJ, Traktor and Serato all do this. Load your music files into the program – and it will calculate the BPMs as part of analyzing it.

A third option is to check out online lists like DJBPMStudio

One thing to note, DJs often refer to speeding up a record as pitching it up. In DJ land, pitch refers to tempo while in musician land, pitch refers to key. While speeding up vocal does affect the key of music, this isn’t the normal reference point for DJs.

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