Officially, Smart Tempo does not work yet with MIDI. But unofficially, there is a workflow that does allow Smart Tempo to accurately map freely played MIDI, and it’s not difficult!
Smart Tempo & MIDI
The key to understanding how and why this works is the slightly awkwardly worded “Maintain Time Position of All Regions” function in the File Tempo Editor’s Actions menu. When working in Adapt mode, any changes to the beat markers will be updated immediately in the Tempo Track. So with this option enabled, any timeline offsets that result from the tempo mapping are applied to all other regions as well. So, they stay in sync with each other.
Free Video Tutorial
I’ve illustrated the entire process in the free video below:
How It Works
Here is a quick summary of what is happening and why this works:
- When you’ve got freely played MIDI, convert one of the files to an audio file.
- Set your project tempo mode to Adapt.
- Enable “Maintain Time Position of All Regions” function in the File Tempo Editor’s Actions menu.
Because it was played independently of the click the tempo chunks embedded in this newly generated audio file are incorrect. Open it up in the File Tempo Editor and invoking the “Remove Original Recording Tempo and Analyze Again” function. This will not only create a tempo map of the freely played MIDI but should also trigger a downbeat shifting while keeping the relative positions of all existing regions.
Keep Mode Workaround
If working in Keep mode, the Actions menu item “Adapt Project Tempo and All Regions to Region Tempo and Downbeat” does the same thing as “Maintain Time Position of All Regions”. But the action is only triggered manually when you invoke the command, instead of updating automatically as it does in Adapt mode.
There seems to be a small bug though that sometimes prevents the shifting of the downbeat. If that happens, it is easily corrected by reassigning which beat marker is to be identified as the downbeat in the File tempo Editor.
I hope we may see fully integrated Smart Tempo support for MIDI in the future, but for now, this will get you there. I have to say, it certainly is exciting to be able to capture some freely played MIDI and have Logic Pro X calculate the tempo and placement automatically. Such a feat is actually quite incredible!
Logic Pro X 10.4 Update Explained
To learn more about Smart Tempo and the other new Logic 10.4 features, check out my Groove3 videos here: