Saturday, April 6, 2013

HOW TO USE THE TIME-STRETCHING TOOL (with Free Vst plugins inside!)

Hello and welcome to this week's article! This time we have a question submitted by Ross, a big friend of mine and a great singer, which I found to be very interesting: how do I slow down a song, in order to be able to exercise better with my guitar?
Expanding the topic, how can we slow down or make a song or a loop to match the bpm of another song?
Time Stretching is a very interesting subject also for electronic music producers: when writing a song they often use loops of different bpms, and they need to change the tempo in order to fit them in their song, or even a dj may need to Automate the tempo of two songs in order to smoothen the transition between them (click here for a dedicated article about automations).

Getting into business, this tutorial is specific for the Cubase/Nuendo interface, but it can be applied to just about any DAW in the market (even the free ones ;D).
First off we will have to set the left and right locators (find the right metronome of your loop and select carefully the measure, if you're interested into changing a single loop tempo), then right click on the track, and from the resulting scrolling menu click on Process->Time Stretch.
Now that we have our Time Stretch window open, we can modify the lenght of the track in different ways: we can choose a target bpm to follow (we can for example set in original lenght the track's tempo for example 120bpm, and in resulting lenght 90bpm), or we can modify the speed deciding a certain percentage, in the Time Stretch Ratio box.

Another very interesting feature is the "Use Locators" box: by enabling it, if we have selected with our locators, for example, a smaller portion of our track (instead of selecting its totality), the software will automatically shrink the track or enlarge it in order to fit the selection;
this feature is very useful if we need, for example, to slow down a track of half of its tempo: we must just select with the locators a portion of our project that is twice as the track we wish to slow down (e.g. the track is 4 measures, we select 8), and process it.

If the track is not excessively modified, the pitch and the overall quality should remain decent, and help us to satisfy our creativity or study needs.

As previously stated, today most of DAWs already features a built-in time stretching tool, but in case you want to try some cool free Vst, here's a couple of good ones:

Paul's Extreme Sound Stretch - A tool suited for extreme sound stretching (even 50x!)

Slower - a tool to stretch timing and pitch, with 16 presets, good also to create special effects.

Hope this was helpful!

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