How To Create A Custom DJ Tempo Transition Track

How do I transition from __ BPM to __ BPM, or from house music to hip hop? Today’s tutorial shows how to use Ableton to create a premade track that gradually transitions from one BPM to any other. We can use this transition track in DJ sets to go from an original track to an uptempo remix or switch between different genres. Build your own and download an Ableton template inside!

What you need:

Step 1: Warping Your Track

Since we are dealing with a stable tempo electronic track, we won’t need multiple warp markers. In this case warping is very similar to beatgridding in Traktor. We just need to find the first downbeat, place a warp marker, and make sure our tempo is correct. In the case of Bubble Butt, we’ve got a warp marker on the first downbeat, and we have the correct tempo in the “Seg BPM”.

Step 2: Looping, Slice To MIDI

Once a is track warped, it’s really easy to slice it to a MIDI rack. To do this highlight the section that you want to slice (click and drag on the waveform), loop it, then right-click the waveform and select “Slice to MIDI”. You’ll then be given some options for how you’d like to slice it. We’re going to use ¼ notes slices. This will give us a new MIDI drum rack with 16 slices that are 1 beat long.

Step 3: Recording A Loop With Arpeggiator

Now that we have a MIDI rack we can start to experiment with our sounds. It’s important to note that Ableton does not time stretch drum/MIDI racks. But we can use an Arpeggiator to rapidly trigger MIDI slices at different tempo-synced rates. Once you’ve found the combination of slices that work for you, record a simple loop that will be used in the Arrangement.

Step 4: Arrangement/Automation: Putting It All Together

This is primarily a tool for DJs, so we want to make it as easy as possible to mix with. We’re going to start with a 4-bar drum loop (for mixing in). Then we’ll introduce our arpeggiated MIDI loop that we recorded. We can add emphasis by using a crash. This will be used to let the crowd know that something is big is about to happen. After the crash we can break into our new BPM track or new genre.

However we’re not done, we still need to record in our tempo automation. The tempo automation allows us to draw in tempo changes in the arrangement. In this case we’re going from 125 BPM to 99 BPM. To do that we need to select the “Song Tempo” under the Master track in the arrangement view. Now we can add breakpoints in the automation lane and adjust the breakpoints to create our tempo automation.

Step 5: Export And Enjoy

Now we can export the track. To export the track highlight the entire arrangement and then go to File ? Export Audio/Video. A menu will pop up with various options and settings for exporting. Here is my selection.

A STEP INTO PRODUCTION

Learning how to do this has an added benefit that may not be immediately obvious. You’re learning how to make your own custom edit (i.e. produce!). Don’t do yourself a disservice by thinking, “I’m not really producing if i’m using loops or if i’m not creating original material.” Instead of diving into production and trying create original tracks, start by working with finished songs and use sample packs to give you material to build off. This will allow you to build production confidence.

DOWNLOAD THE PROJECT

We are giving away drum loops and the Ableton Project used in the video. You can download the project and take your time to see how everything works. You can also use this project as a template to follow while making your own transition tracks – you’ll soon able to make these transition tracks in minutes. We’ve also included some loops in the download for your use!

Click here to download the transition project 
(content included is for educational purposes only)

Read Next: 5 Creative Tempo Transition Techniques For A DJ Set

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Comments (38)
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  • Snash

    Brilliant tutorial… have been lookin for this for a while.. DJ TT u guys always have answers for me 🙂 I knw this is totally out of topic but just wanted to what laptop stand is he using in the video.

  • Blue Collar Prophet

    A video i have created to show how you can use Traktor to transition any 2 tracks from live on the fly! Hope this helps everyone! Big props to DJTT for the continued support of “How To’s” in the DJ scene!
    Cheers
    BCP
    http://youtu.be/9w1qSOSvg6E

  • Blue Collar Prophet

    I create these allot for when i’m on decks… i also give them out for free on my website for any of you who might need some 🙂 A really cool trick is being able to do it live on the S4. allowing you to create transitions on the fly using any 2 songs in your library 😉 i’ll post a video asap.

    • SILAC

      Can I have the link to video where you are showing this technique you’re talking about?

      • Blue Collar Prophet

        I haven’t gotten to the video yet @disqus_7iCcRGuvJr:disqus sorry! I’m finishing a 7 song record right now so my time is limited. as soon as i get it up though i’ll post a link to you.
        thanks!

        • SILAC

          Appreciate it. Good luck with your record 😉

          • Blue Collar Prophet

            Hey @disqus_7iCcRGuvJr:disqus i finally got that video up on my youtube channel! this is the first of probably 3 videos i’ll do on how to transition while performing live.
            Cheers, hope it helps!
            http://youtu.be/9w1qSOSvg6E

  • ace

    Thanks so much for this, really straight forward & to the point. Exactly what I need as a total noob with ableton & production stuff in general. Please post more stuff like this!
    I wanna learn.

    • Ryan Dejaegher

      Ah i’ve seen that device before, very cool!

  • Jonathan Nunag

    Thanks for this article bro I tried and it feels good to have my first step to production. please make more videos like this!

    • Ryan Dejaegher

      Hey Jonathan glad you liked the article, what would you like to see next?

    • Ryan Dejaegher

      Man! Nice work! I love seeing people take action immediately. Just listened to it and the slicing sounded pretty solid.

  • DJ Neoh

    Great article, more DJ’s into production tutorials would be a huge help… Keep it up

  • Atenga

    Anyone else notice the batman slippers….? Awesome!

  • antifm

    This is a great work around for the problem people face but it opens up another question.
    What do you do if you DONT have or use Ableton?

    • Ryan Dejaegher

      Hey antifm, you can download a 30 day trial from Ableton’s website. If not there’s technically a way to do this in Traktor as well.

    • killmedj

      Use a wide pitch percentage in Traktor and loop a small section of the track.
      Either at the end of the tune you’re playing or the beginning of the track you’re mixing in. then gradually move the pitch fader to the desired tempo.

      • antifm

        u forgot to mention that KEY LOCK needed to be turned on hee hee.
        I posted the question because i wanted others to get it

        • killmedj

          Ha ha! Yeah Key Lock would def help ????

  • Tyler

    the problem I run into is when I go to play these tracks out, I don’t like to use tempo automation because how am I supposed to know – prior to my set – when that tempo transition is going to happen? so where on the timeline do I set up my tempo automation? Would be nice to draw tempo automation directly into the clip automation

    • Ryan Dejaegher

      Hey Tyler how’s it going? Are you talking about using this in Ableton or a DJ software?

  • Toontown

    Nice tutorial! Part 2 of this is importing the track into Traktor and showing what to do when Traktor doesn’t analyze it correctly. If you only use sync you are presented with some extra steps in gridding your tracks.

    • Tyler

      Same goes for Live, using arrangement view automation doesn’t work for most of us.. we need to do that tempo transition manually while playing the warped track in session view.. I’ve always wondered what the best way to warp the tune is, I know Live will let you do tempo transitions within your warping but then it is up to you to manually adjust the master tempo, or set that clip as the tempo slave but I haven’t given that a shot yet

      • Toontown

        Yeah, I suppose this doesn’t lend itself well to Live in session view. When I’m clip launching, I warp everything and slave it off the master tempo. You’d have to have the whole clip warped to the same BPM and remember the exact moment to adjust your master BPM.

        • Tyler

          That’s exactly what I do.. you purposely warp it in this awkward static tempo and then manually adjust your master.. not a huge deal, but I’m wondering if there might be an easier way making that clip the tempo master or possibly some kind of dummy clip automation, max4live, who knows?

          • Toontown

            Ah. Yeah, my reading comprehension is slow today.

            I remember this from a while back – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4T1Vv2RN_ew – It’s kind of what you’re talking about.

            You might have to split your clip into three. One for the pre-transition (125 BPM), one for the shift, one for the post-transition (99 BPM)… Arrange them on three separate lines and have them all follow each other automatically with the second one launching at the same time as the envelope.

    • Ryan Dejaegher

      Hey Toontown, unfortunately Traktor doesn’t support multiple grids. This is why when you make a track like this it’s important to note the BPM’s that it transitions between, i.e. 125 – 99. You can place a grid marker at the start of your track then place a grid marker at the point where the transition finishes. As far as syncing it you’ll have to do it manually or go into Traktor and change the BPM after the transition has occurred so that Traktor will lock to the grid.

      • Toontown

        Exactly. Knowing how to beatmatch comes in handy for me in this scenario.

      • stefanhapper

        I really hope Traktor 3.0 will have more flexible beatgrids

  • calgarc

    i generally just use the tempo fader on traktor or CDJ/Turntable and gradually move them up or down through out the song. works just fine for me 😀

  • Marquee Mark

    AWESOME. Always wanted to know how to make my own edits. Big ups ryan, more tuts like this please

    • Ryan Dejaegher

      Glad you liked it Marquee Mark =) That was a big reason I wanted to do this tutorial, so it could be a gateway for DJ’s to get into production.