New: Change playback speed using BPM

Posted by Adrian Holovaty on February 22, 2019

Today we’ve changed how our playback speed selector works: you now specify the speed in BPM (beats per minute) instead of a percentage, if you’re using synthetic playback. “Real” recordings, such as MP3s or videos, still use a percentage.

The idea here is to better reflect how musicians think about tempo. If you’re learning a fast piece of music, starting slowly and building up tempo, then it’s more natural to think in BPM than an arbitrary percentage.

It’s also a bit presumptuous to grant a specific tempo “100 percent” status, in cases where you don’t have a reference recording you’re trying to mimic. Often there’s no absolutely right or wrong tempo.

At the same time, lots of musicians have grown accustomed to using percentages, and we think this makes sense when trying to learn from specific reference recordings. That’s why we’ve changed our speed selector to work differently depending on the context:

Screenshot

At the risk of complexity, we think this dual-purpose interface strikes a nice balance for the two learning approaches. Let us know what you think.

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