What is the tempo of this song?

Please help us settle a debate we are having in the office.  What is the tempo of this song?

  1. #1 by - on August 6, 2009 - 4:46 pm

    I tapped it and the result is ca. 193,5 bpm

  2. #2 by Jeremy on August 6, 2009 - 6:24 pm

    I think is actually 182… or at least intended.

  3. #3 by Kevin Fox on August 6, 2009 - 9:09 pm

    Not sure that there’s a definitive answer, but I would say 98. Then again, I’m a swing dancer who’s calculating based on the way I would dance it.

  4. #4 by Mike on August 6, 2009 - 9:40 pm

    According to http://www.all8.com/tools/bpm.htm – I get about 193.5 overall, but I feel a little slowdown from early in the song to the middle and a little speedup toward the end – of course, it’s small variation (less than a BPM for sure), so I might just be crazy. I am not sure what you might be debating, but I am intrigued. The drum beat is pretty standard – snare on 2 and 4.

  5. #5 by Ben on August 6, 2009 - 9:56 pm

    uh, you guys are totally off by a factor of two. Or I count half time in my head. Either way I vote 92ish bpm.

  6. #6 by brian on August 6, 2009 - 10:19 pm

    Like Ben, I tapped 97 and these dudes agree

  7. #7 by Kevin Fox on August 6, 2009 - 10:25 pm

    That’s what I get for only tapping out 30 seconds worth and doubling. 97 it is. :-)

  8. #8 by Nick on August 6, 2009 - 11:19 pm

    about 95 bpm, I think. (go half-time people!)

  9. #9 by Mike on August 6, 2009 - 11:20 pm

    Mathematically, it doesn’t matter of course which we claim, but in terms of music-playing standards, I’d argue that 97 is positively wrong. Standard rock drum beats are snare on the 2 and 4. In this case, that matches the faster tempo. If he were playing at 97, he’d be hitting the snare on every quarter note. While this can be done, we’re talking about Blink 182 here, so I REALLY doubt anyone could realistically say they are diverging from musical norms. I am pretty certain that if you asked any drummer, they would say 193ish.

  10. #10 by Mike on August 6, 2009 - 11:25 pm

    Incidentally, it says 196 here: http://www.ergmusic.com/usa/search.asp?q=rock+show&qt=1&cd=&yr=&catlat=cat&x=34&y=7 and 97 at http://www.ergmusic.com/can/search.asp?q=Blink+182+Rock+Show&qt=0&x=0&y=0&cd=&yr=&catlat=cat – the subtle difference between the two is that the 97 comes from the Canadian version and the 196 from the US version. Perhaps in Canada, drumming standards differ? Any Canucks care to comment?

  11. #11 by Mark on August 6, 2009 - 11:54 pm

    I’d go with ~193 over ~97 for two reasons. a) you get 193 when counting back beats as falling on the 2 and 4. and b) It is a fast song

  12. #12 by Wolfgang on August 7, 2009 - 3:10 am

    It depends on what you feel (musically), I guess.

    The rhythmic accents suggest to me to count fast (190-ish),
    since both the drive in the accompanying instruments (guitar, bass) feels more like 8ths than 16ths to me (with every other note being accented rather than every fourth) and the melody has these phrases that would be just on the beat (“she’s so cool…”). And the fast beat gives more energy to the song, which contrasts nicely with the parts of the melody that have a more relaxed feeling.

    But if I were to play it, I’d probably count half-time (95-ish) since at least I myself can’t keep a tempo *this* fast with any reasonable precision.

  13. #13 by Miki on August 7, 2009 - 4:52 am

    Listen to the drums ! It’s a standard rock pattern in 4/4 time signature, with the strong beats on 2 and 4 (snare hits). Just count along, one, TWO, three, FOUR… that’s the beat of the song. I don’t have a metronome handy, but something around 180BPM sounds about right.

  14. #14 by Adam on August 7, 2009 - 11:07 am

    Yeah, I’m with the ~193 tempo. My cue is in the backbeat.

  15. #15 by Michael on August 8, 2009 - 2:42 am

    Yes, this is an uptempo song; the tempo is a fast four, not a slow 2. My metronome syncing is around 184 or a little bit faster for the first part of the song.

  16. #16 by grubernd on August 8, 2009 - 8:06 am

    i dont use metronomes or other machines, for music i go by heart. literally. so being in the moshpit in a concert, doing the pogo.. i’d say my heart would be going 150 or up. i mean.. anything below 120 is a love-ballad for blink182.

    to answer the question: the tempo is high. :)

  17. #17 by Duncan on August 10, 2009 - 9:05 am

    I would say it’s definitely around 192.
    Coming from a guitarists point of view, it would be highly unusual (and just doesn’t feel right) to have the chords in the rhythm last 2 beats when they feel like whole bars before a change… And they definitely don’t feel like semiquavers.

  18. #18 by zazi on August 10, 2009 - 9:52 am

    What about capturing the first 2 or three maximas of a beat histogram, because an averaged doubling of the beat is strongly related to the first harmonic, or?
    In this cause it might more an halfing of the beat, so the first peak is about 192 bpm an the second peak is about the half of that (~ 96 bpm).

    Cheers zazi

  19. #19 by Christian Delahousse on August 10, 2009 - 12:09 pm

    I would say the higher tempo because then the vocalist would be singing 8th notes instead of 16ths. Nobody sings a pop melody completely in 16ths…

    Well, I only listened to the first 15 seconds, so I may be way off..

  20. #20 by Mike on August 10, 2009 - 12:29 pm

    I mean this with no connotation intended, but I am curious…are any of the people that say 97 musicians? My theory, and I may be wrong, is that a musician would never say 97 (at least not a rock musician). I don’t mean that in an insulting way, I am just curious if we are observing differences based on the way different groups think about music.

    Again, from my perspective (and as many others have pointed out), the song follows all standard rock conventions for a 193 BPM song and virtually no rock conventions for a 97 BPM song, but I am actively involved in playing and thinking about rock music.

  21. #21 by Pontius Pilate on August 10, 2009 - 12:29 pm

    Approximately 193 bpm.

  22. #22 by plamere on August 10, 2009 - 12:43 pm

    Thanks everyone – the question stemmed from us looking to use some of the whitburn data [ http://waxy.org/2008/05/the_whitburn_project/ ] to use as ground truth for improving our tempo predicting algorithms. However, we noticed that the whitburn data rarely had BPM data that was above 160 BPM. This seemed unusual. So I asked Aaron (our internal uber-music-geek) to name a fast song – he instantly named this track as a candidate. Our algorithms predict a fast tempo, but whitburn says it is a 93 BPM track. Getting an opinion from 20 people help us confirm that we can’t always trust whitburn to give us a proper BPM.

  23. #23 by Daniel on August 11, 2009 - 2:54 am

    I would also take the 193 BPM … with snares on 2 and 4

  24. #24 by Svantana on August 18, 2009 - 9:57 am

    That is interesting! I just had a look at the Whitburn data and found a similar anomaly, but going the other way; “Oh” by Ciara is 64 bpm according to me, but is noted as 128 in the database. It would seem that there are some non-musicians involved in the notation.

    link to track:

    • #25 by plamere on August 18, 2009 - 9:59 am

      Svantana – in fact not only were there non-musicians involved, there were non-humans involved. Andy tracked down the primary BPM labeller for Whitburn who has indicated that he used an automatic BPM detector to label the tracks.

  25. #26 by Doug on August 21, 2009 - 10:47 am

    I think it depends on whether you mean notated tempo or tapping rate. For notated tempo I’d agree with everyone (~192). For tapping rate, I’m certain you’d get a bimodal distribution over listeners (period halving of ~192) for some tappers. I wish I had the citation, but it’s been demonstrated that musically-trained listeners tend to tap at slower==deeper in the metrical hierarchy than untrained listeners. Personally I’m not a big fan of assigning a single BPM rating to a song. I’d rather see a probability distribution. I would even be ok truncating the distribution (so just keeping around the 2 or 3 most probable values). I also think the beat tracking community expends far too much time on trying to design error metrics for this phenomenon.

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