On Calculating Timings of Works of Music


I am working toward a trio recording project now, and as a part of planning for that I needed to come up with timings for a number of works that we did not have recordings of. There will be three brand new works included on the recording and a number of works and arrangements that have not been recorded.

Schmidt-Snip-2A lot of people would just play them down and time them. But there is a better way to get a good estimate.

I don’t recall anyone telling me this system but it must have been thought of before. What I was inspired by on this was that you can time for example the number of seconds between highway mile posts and calculate your speed. For example if it takes 60 seconds to travel one mile you are driving exactly 60 miles per hour. We used to do this game on family car trips.

In music we can create a similar formula to come up with a timing for a piece of music, which would be this:

Meter times number of bars divided by the metronome marking

So for example if a piece of music is in three and is 20 bars long and the tempo is 60 beats per minute you get:

3 X 20 / 60 = 1

It would be exactly one minute long. This system is fool proof and can give you a very accurate estimate if you know your metronome marking accurately. Realizing of course that if you get an answer of 1.5 that translates to a timing of 1:30.

This simple formula is applicable to any piece of printed music and is a great tool for planning performances or recordings of any type.

Speaking of the recording, I am very excited about some of the new music and will have more on it all as we record and release it! Our first day of recording is today.

University of Horn Matters