The perfect tempo

November 18, 2014 9:07 pm Published by Leave your thoughts


I just relistened to a Radiolab episode about Beethoven and tempo. And noticed an interesting fact that there is a tempo we, humans, seem to have built-in. There’s this thing that when you perform mouth to mouth a good song to have in your head is Beegees Stayin Alive as it’s around 100 BPM It helps you keep the correct tempo when reviving someone. 100 BPM is also the fastest a resting adults heart should beat. So it’s engraved into our bodies and our mind somehow.

The more exact BPM is 94-96 BPM. It’s like we got a “human time”. I like pretty fast tempo stuff. Punk, bitpop, electro etc and a lot of slow pace music also. I did a very non-empirical check in my most played songs – not many songs had a tempo near human time.

So what does this mean? If someone writes a song and want people to like it and feel comfortable with the beat should it have a tempo of 94 BPM? Beethoven wanted his music to be played at a fast-paced tempo but many orchestras play it around 94 BPM. That tempo might suit the classical music crowd but it seems that the formula for those looking to evoke an emotion is pretty simple.

Avoid 94 BPM like it’s the kiss of death. 94 BPM is the rhythm of life too ordinary.

It’s probably not as easy simple as that though…

Take a listen to Radiolab’s Speedy beat episode about Beethoven and his prefered tempo – and how his work seldom is performed at the BPM he intended.

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